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Some concerned about annexation

August 24, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

HAGERSTOWN

gregs@herald-mail.com

A number of new residents and likely residents of homes being built near Leitersburg Pike said Tuesday they understand it's nearly impossible to stop a proposed shopping center from being built off Leitersburg Pike, but they would at least like some ability to guide the project.

The concerns were expressed during a public hearing Tuesday night in City Hall over the proposal to annex 30 acres into Hagerstown city limits.

The proposal, known as the Faison Annexation, would make room for a 250,000-square-foot shopping center that would include a Lowe's store. Charlotte, N.C.-based Faison, which has offices in Bethesda, Md., is the company that would develop the land.

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"One of our primary concerns is the traffic problem," Ron Frew, who lives in the Cortland Manor neighborhood, told the City Council.

With moving trucks, business traffic and added congestion, some elements of what was expected to be a retirement community could be lost, Frew said.

"We just value our quiet," Frew said.

Fifteen people spoke before the council on the annexation, nearly all from the new Cortland Manor homes that would neighbor the proposed shopping center.

Concerns included the number of exits the shopping center would build, where the exits would be, how many traffic lights along Leitersburg Pike would suffice, whether there should be any necessary land improvements such as walls or trees to block noise and light, and what the effect would be on the city's sewer system.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner, who was chairing the night's meeting in the absence of Mayor Richard F. Trump, told the speakers that while they might have valid concerns, many of them could not be dealt with until a different step in the development process, and that the night's discussion was only whether the city should add the land to city limits.

The problem, Metzner said, is that because the land is currently under county land-use regulations and is zoned to allow shopping centers, the city cannot prevent the development.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said the annexation process can be used to negotiate some terms from the developer.

The council did not vote on the annexation Tuesday. A council vote on whether to finalize the annexation likely will be held next month. If approved, the annexation would take effect 45 days after the vote.

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