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Present area residents' needs must be included in rezoning

December 10, 2004

Hagerstown resident Harry Carbaugh asked a fair question on Wednesday night during a meeting of the Hagerstown Planning Commission.

Speaking about a proposal to put 243 new homes on 28 acres along Howell Road, Carbaugh asked what guarantee existing residents would have that necessary road improvements would be in place when construction of those homes begins.

The question is fair because unless the developer, Strategic Resources LLC of Highland, Md., is planning a new form of revenue sharing, existing residents won't get any benefit out of the new development.

They don't own the land, so they shouldn't expect a lot, but it shouldn't cost them the access they have now to the neighborhood's road network.

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As Carbaugh noted, it's already difficult to exit onto Howell Road and Edgewood Drive. If road improvements aren't completed in a timely fashion, the Carbaugh family might find itself sitting in the family's driveway for a long time.

We believe that contributions to the road upgrading should be part of any rezoning agreement, along with an agreement to build the homes in stages, so that school construction can keep up with the increase in population.

We do agree with the developer on one point - the existing industrial zoning isn't appropriate, given what's happened to that neighborhood in the past few years.

The tract seems better suited to residential, given that it's in an urban area. Whether 243 homes on 28 acres is too much for that space is a question the city planning department needs to consider.

But the fact that Interstate 70 is nearby would make it a good site for construction of homes for those who commute to the metropolitan areas.

But again, what's good for the developer is not necessarily what will benefit Harry Carbaugh and his family. The needs of existing residents shouldn't be forgotten during a rush to bring new people to the region.

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