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Harrison Tract concerns aired

December 09, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - David Leather took a pen and marked a spot on a map for the Hagerstown Planning Commission on Wednesday night.

The spot indicated was where his house sits, and it also marked a proposed road.

"I have basically one concern, and one concern only, on the drawing," Leather, 43, told the planning board. The proposed road "runs right through my house," he said.

Leather's house is on Beverly Drive, and the drawing was of plans for future development, including a residential zoning request and drawings for roads including the proposed Paul Smith Boulevard, or Funkstown Bypass.

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Leather was one of three speakers at Wednesday's hearing before the Planning Commission in City Hall, although nearly 30 people came to hear the Harrison Tract case.

The 28 acres under discussion Wednesday are along Howell Road, just off Dual Highway. It is undeveloped land on which the would-be owners are planning to build homes.

The company seeking the zoning changes - from industrial restricted zoning to R2, or moderate residential zoning - is Strategic Resources LLC of Highland, Md.

Bob Quatmann, part owner of Strategic Resources, said the company is the contract buyer for the land in question, but he declined to say when the land deal would be final. The land is owned by Dr. Richard Harrison of Hagerstown and several of his family members.

Representatives for Strategic Resources explained the drawn proposals are not final drawings, and said their main thrust is to seek the zoning change.

Stuart Bass, a planner for the city, said an early estimate shows that as many as 243 homes could be built on the land, resulting in about 728 new residents to the area.

Jason Divelbiss, a local attorney representing Strategic Resources, told the Planning Commission that a change in zoning is right because the surrounding neighborhood has changed significantly since the last comprehensive rezoning in the late 1970s.

Divelbiss also said the original industrial zoning was a mistake in the first place - exhibited by the fact that the land remains untouched.

Land on the other side of Dual Highway had come under scrutiny earlier this year after a map bearing the name of megastore Wal-Mart had been submitted to city planners. Representatives on Wednesday said, for now, development plans are not moving forward on the north side of Dual Highway.

After comments from Divelbiss and other representatives, Harry and Kathy Carbaugh, both 46, explained they were concerned about possible traffic problems. The Carbaughs live on Howell Road.

"It's tough to get out onto Howell road. It's tough to get out onto Edgewood (Drive)," Harry Carbaugh said. He then asked "what guarantees do we have" that road improvements will be complete when the developers begin building homes?

Kathy Carbaugh said she was concerned that a blind curve on Howell Road may become more dangerous with the proposed roads.

"That's a major, major problem," Kathy Carbaugh said.

The planning commission did not render its decision Wednesday. Some members were absent, but, Chairman Doug Wright said they will listen to the comments later.

The commission's recommendation will be forwarded to the City Council, which ultimately will decide whether to rezone the property.

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