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Moratorium expiration date stands

April 06, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

As of now, Washington County's more than two-year ban on major residential growth in rural areas is set to expire on April 18.

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday discussed whether to extend the building moratorium for up to 90 days, but there weren't enough votes to do so.

"I think the moratorium has gone on long enough," Commissioner John C. Munson said. "I don't think we're being fair to the people."

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The commissioners, instead, plan to discuss at next Tuesday's meeting ways to control growth through the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO).

The moratorium, which was adopted in October 2002, was supposed to be in place for up to a year. Since that time, the commissioners extended the ban three times.

The moratorium applies to residential subdivisions of six or more lots in rural areas - locations outside the designated areas where growth is encouraged.

A previous board of commissioners first approved the moratorium to keep the water supply from drying up in the midst of a drought.

They also said it would prevent developers from rushing to submit subdivision plans before the commissioners agreed to a rural rezoning plan.

The rural rezoning, also known as downzoning, is designed to keep major growth from springing up in rural areas by reducing the number of homes allowed on such properties.

It also would direct growth to areas where development is encouraged, most of which is around the City of Hagerstown.

The commissioners extended the moratorium most recently in January. They said then that they needed the time to decide whether to include in the county's rural rezoning proposal some type of program that would help landowners make up for a possible loss of equity should the rezoning proposal be approved.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Tuesday that the commissioners have not yet decided when they will vote on the rezoning proposal.

Commissioner Doris J. Nipps said it's time for the commissioners to get moving on the rezoning vote.

"We have been sitting on this thing for a long, long time, and we need to move forward," she said.

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