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County Commissioners review zoning requests

September 15, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Commissioners meeting to review the final seven zoning requests filed in response to a comprehensive rural rezoning plan lasted less than 30 minutes Tuesday evening.

Two people spoke in reference to those parcels.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the commissioners likely would make a decision about the seven formal zoning requests on Sept. 21.

Snook said he had expected that at least a half-dozen speakers would testify about their requests.

Snook said most people that attended were there in reference to 30 other properties that have been discussed by the commissioners.

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Snook said a public hearing likely will be held in mid-October in reference to the decisions regarding the seven properties and the overall comprehensive plan that calls for the rezoning of about 250,000 acres in the county's rural areas.

Oscar Hall, of 6777 Dam 4 Road, said he attended because he was one of several who wanted the ability to subdivide his property. Hall said he bought the property in the mid-1970s with that intention because he believed property costs would skyrocket.

"I have children, and I'd like them to able to build on our property," Hall said. "I bought it for them, not for me."

Hall said although he believes people should have the right to sell various parcels of their property to make a profit, that was not his intent.

Snook said the commissioners previously decided that parcel owners such as Hall and others wishing to make similar subdivisions would be able to do so. Snook said three exceptions would be allowed for owners of up to 50 acres, four for those with 50 to 100 acres and five for those with more than 100 acres.

Snook said the maximum number of subdivision exceptions would be five.

The proposed rezoning would reduce the number of homes allowed in rural areas. It is part of the county's Comprehensive Plan, which is designed to direct growth to areas in which development is encouraged. Those areas are mainly in and around the City of Hagerstown.

The Washington County Rural Area Zoning Task Force has said that such a rezoning would devalue land because it would limit the development potential of rural properties. It has recommended that the county consider creating programs that might help landowners recover from lost equity.

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