Planning Commission briefs

July 15, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

Panel questions limits on rentals

Hagerstown Planning Commission members on Wednesday questioned a City Council initiative to limit rental housing in the city.

City Planning Director Kathleen Maher presented the Planning Commission with several ideas that were developed after the City Council discussed the possibility of imposing a moratorium on new apartments earlier this year.

The ideas include minimum open-space requirements and minimum size requirements for new apartments, and rules that would require some new housing developments to include some subsidized homes.

Planning Commission Chairman Douglas Wright Jr. said improving the city's housing stock is important, but attempts to limit rental housing may backfire.


"We are a city. A city's purpose is consolidating and using the resources of the tax base more efficiently, and by striving to (increase) single-family homes, we're not acting like a city, we're acting like a suburb," Wright said.

"I think that we are overreacting," Wright said.

Planning Commission member James Stone also cautioned that new rental homes should not be dismissed automatically as a "huge, horrible catastrophe staring us in the face."

"If you have a a townhouse and it costs you $1,500 a month to rent, and to say that's undesirable ... that's a stretch," Stone said.

The commission asked Maher to return at a future meeting with more information about the proposed minimum apartment size and open-space requirements.

Commission member picked for state panel

The Hagerstown Planning Commission appointed commission member Martin Brubaker to a state commission that will discuss city-county water and sewer issues.

The Washington County Water and Sewer Infrastructure Commission was created through state legislation earlier this year. One issue the commission will consider is whether the city and county water and sewer agencies should consolidate.

The Washington County Water and Sewer Infrastructure Commission is required under the law to submit an interim report to the Washington County Delegation to the General Assembly on or before Jan. 1, 2005, and submit its final report on or before June 7, 2006.

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