Hagerstown briefs

March 17, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

City attorney: Tax bill might pose problems

Hagerstown City Attorney John Urner told the City Council there are "potential legal issues" with a recent version of the county excise tax bill being ushered through the Maryland General Assembly.

Urner said there is some question over whether the rules would force the city to give up more power than is legal, and there are other points that aren't quite clear. The excise tax is a tax on new construction.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said it is an important measure to pass because it can help pay for city services as the city grows, but it is also important that city officials watch their interests in Annapolis.

Hendershot notes campaign concerns

City Councilman N. Linn Hendershot, who was knocked out of this year's city election in last week's primary election, noted his concerns over an "extreme amount of money" being spent by a slate of candidates in this year's election.


The political action committee supporting the Republican slate of candidates had raised $25,325 by the last reporting deadline, according to campaign finance documents.

Hendershot said most of the money given to the PAC is from "bankers or developers," and he said he believed the candidates were not focused on better health care through Washington County Hospital, but rather "land development east of the Antietam" Creek.

"The city's not for sale," Hendershot said.

Washington County Hospital's proposed move from its buildings on East Antietam Street to a site near Robinwood Medical Center has become a political issue in the city races.

Council balks at Howell Road rezoning

Hagerstown City Council members said Tuesday they are not willing to rezone land along Howell Road that is part of a proposal that could put as many as 243 homes in the area.

Councilmen Lewis C. Metzner and Kristin B. Aleshire vocally opposed the rezoning during Tuesday's work session, and none of the three other council members spoke up to defend the project.

"I'm not ready to rezone this property based on the infrastructure problems out there," Metzner said.

Aleshire called for city planning officials to instead look at rezoning issues in a long-term city planning document set to be drafted later this year.

Events planned for University Plaza

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday approved plans to begin holding events in University Plaza, the new park next to the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown building on West Washington Street.

City Public Information Manager and events coordinator Karen Giffin said she is working with the Washington County Arts Council to plan events through the summer.

Giffin said that from June through August, the city would invite bands to play in the park on Thursdays. In June and July, the city would host storytelling events on Fridays, she said.

Giffin said the programs would cost about $20,000 for the summer.

- Gregory T. Simmons

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