Hold developer responsible for the impact of this project

September 14, 2004

Last week a landscape architect for the Mount Aetna Farms project told the Hagerstown Council that development once planned for 800 units was now envisioned as a 1,400-unit "neo-traditional village."

No matter what kind of village this is, given its location, this project should face some serious scrutiny.

The project would be located on 224.6 acres off Yale Drive near Eastern Elementary School, near the proposed site for a new Washington County Hospital.

In June, QC Enterprises of Cockeysville, Md., applied for a Planned Unit Development, a zoning designation that gives developers freedom from certain zoning rules, as long as they agree to submit and follow a master plan for the development.

As proposed in June, it would have had 478 townhouses, 426 single-family homes and 144 condominiums. In July, county planners expressed concern over local roads' ability to carry the traffic and over the capacity of local schools to handle the new students.


Now the project is being handled by Quillen Development, which has been privately negotiating with the city on issues such as annexation and water and sewer connections.

If annexed, the development wouldn't be subject to the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, which collects fees for roads and schools.

Payments for schools should be part of any annexation agreement, as should contributions to upgrade Yale Drive and the intersection of Mount Aetna Road and U.S. 40, where the Yale Drive traffic would eventually go.

We have our doubts about the wisdom of putting a 1,400-unit development in an area with inadequate roads and crowded schools. It's up to city officials to look beyond the tax revenue Mount Aetna Farms would yield and force the developers to solve any problems this project would cause.

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