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Interfaith Housing Alliance seeks zoning amendment

March 15, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - At a joint meeting Monday, the Washington County Planning Commission and County Commissioners discussed a proposed zoning amendment from the Interfaith Housing Alliance Inc.

The housing alliance sought changes on Military Road, north of MacFee Hill Road in Cascade, from the existing business local zoning to residential rural.

William C. Wantz, who was representing the applicant, said a change would be a return to the area's original zoning designation. Wantz said the housing alliance's mission, to provide low-income housing opportunities for Western Maryland residents, addresses a need in Washington County.

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"No one can dispute that the county is in an affordable housing crisis," he said.

Housing alliance residents said the new housing would bring residents to the area who would help Cascade by working in the community and shopping at area businesses.

The change would allow the housing alliance to facilitate low-income housing on an 8.5-acre parcel in that area. The property is adjacent to another larger property owned by the housing alliance, although no building has been done on the larger site.

Opponents of the housing alliance application said more construction could lead to additional drainage problems for residents already experiencing severe flooding in their basements.

"I'm for affordable housing, but not at the cost of me or anyone else who's lived here for years," said Debra Davis of Cascade Road.

Residents said the mold, mildew and poor water quality caused by the regular flooding is having negative effects on the health of many residents.

Robin Biser, of Cascade Road, said she was afraid that development could unearth contaminated soil that might exist in the area the housing alliance would build on.

Action was not taken during the public hearing.

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