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City delays action on rezoning of acreage near Howell Road

September 28, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN

andrews@herald-mail.com

A Hagerstown attorney argued Tuesday that an industrial zone off Howell Road should be changed to residential.

Jason Divelbiss was representing Strategic Resources, LLC, of Highland, Md., which wants to build housing units on 28 acres owned by Dr. Richard Harrison of Hagers- town.

After a public hearing Tuesday, the Hagerstown City Council took no action. The council will vote at a future meeting. If adopted, the rezone would take effect 45 days later, Mayor Richard F. Trump said.

Several residents spoke against the plan Tuesday, questioning the traffic load, especially if a planned road nearby doesn't connect to Dual Highway right away.

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A few residents also said they were pleased by the developer's plan to devote 110 acres of the remaining land to a school campus.

Divelbiss said the campus could include an elementary school, a middle school and a high school.

The same rezoning request was recommended by the Hagerstown Planning Commission last year, but was withdrawn because the City Council did not support it.

The Planning Commission again favors the rezoning "due to a mistake in the original zoning classification," according to a memo by Stuart W. Bass, a comprehensive planner for the city

The land is zoned for light industrial use, but there hasn't been an industrial use there in more than 20 years, the Planning Commission said in its recommendation.

The 28 acres are part of 180 acres of undeveloped land west of Dual Highway near Antietam Creek.

Bass' memo says the zone change could have resulted in about 243 dwelling units. Divelbiss said there are no specific building plans yet.

The memo says the city's 1997 comprehensive plan recommends that the tract have either "(1) a single industrial or institutional occupant or (2) a residential development."

Quoting the city's comprehensive plan, the memo says the land is "a strategic vacant tract."

"It provides not only a development opportunity but also the future route of Paul Smith Boulevard and the Funkstown Bypass, which will carry traffic around Funkstown from the west to the east or southeast," the memo says.

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