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Harrison land plans discussed

October 14, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Plans to prepare unused land off Howell Road in Hagerstown for residential and commercial development were discussed Wednesday at the Hagerstown Planning Commission's work session.

The land is part of the 350 or so acres in the southeastern reaches of the city owned by family members of Dr. Richard Harrison.

Wednesday's hearing was a preliminary consultation on rezoning proposals by development representatives with the Planning Commission. The representatives will return at a future meeting with an official zoning request.

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Planning Commission Chairman Douglas Wright said after the meeting that the representatives could return for their formal public hearing as soon as Oct. 27. After the hearing, the commission issues a recommendation to the City Council, which has ultimate say over zoning.

The area in discussion on Wednesday was about 170 acres surrounded by Antietam Creek, Howell Road and Edgewood Drive. Those pieces of land are designated for light-industrial use, but about 28 acres would be rezoned R2, and another 16 acres or so would be zoned C2.

R2 zoning allows for townhouses, but not high-rise apartment buildings. C2 allows for office parks and strip malls, but not large shopping centers.

Planning commission members had some questions about the future plans of the site, including how the plans would affect traffic on nearby roads, whether there were any plans to provide space for public recreation and which way the homes built on Howell Road would face.

Stephen Zoretich, of Frederick Seibert & Associates, said traffic studies have shown the development plans wouldn't increase traffic on Edgewood Drive, which is a road being targeted for upgrades due to heavy traffic.

"I think he's done what we asked him to do. ... It looks like it could work," Planning Commission member Dennis Miller said.

The officials did not discuss plans for other parts of the Harrison Tract, where there has been speculation that developers would build a Wal-Mart or a similar large store.

A map submitted in May to the city by Harrison Tract representatives showed drawings with the words "proposed Wal-Mart" near Day Road, but city officials have said the map didn't constitute official plans, and no plans have been submitted for such a proposal.

James Laird, who lives on Maplewood Drive near where the proposed Wal-Mart was indicated on the map, attended Wednesday's meeting.

Laird said Wednesday's discussion wasn't worrisome, although he's still concerned about the Wal-Mart possibility.

"I think it looked reasonable. ... We're still waiting for the next shoe to drop," Laird said.

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