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Residents say they prefer housing to industry at site

October 20, 2005|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN

tarar@herald-mail.com

Linda Fritze said she hates the Hagerstown area.

She's fed up with increasing industrial development around her home near Hopewell Road and is concerned that similar businesses could be on the way.

"The noise is atrocious," Fritze said in an interview Tuesday. "You can't sit on the back porch."

Fritze lives in Cedar Lawn between U.S. 40 and Md. 144, near the intersection of Md. 144 and Hopewell Road.

Nearby is 66.67 acres divided by Md. 144.

Todd Snook, who owns that land, said Tuesday during a Washington County Commissioners meeting that the property is going to be developed. But whether it will contain industrial businesses or homes is up for debate.

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"These people don't have the opportunity of having grass across the street anymore," Snook said.

If the choice were theirs, Fritze and resident Robert Nearchos said after the meeting they would prefer homes. They said many residents living near Hopewell Road and Md. 144 expressed similar opinions at a meeting regarding the proposed annexation Monday night. Snook held the meeting, which attracted 75 to 80 residents.

"We had the room packed, and the opinion is that they did not want anymore industrial," Snook's attorney, Jason Divelbiss, said during the commissioners meeting.

Before the discussion on Snook's requests, his brother, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook, turned the meeting over to Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell and left the room. He did not return until the discussion was over.

Wivell asked why residents would be opposed to industrial companies building on the land.

"Because we live there, and we have to put up with the trucks," Fritze responded. "You don't want to get me started."

She and Nearchos also attended the commissioners meeting.

They live in the same home on Richwood Drive.

Fritze and Nearchos said after the commissioners meeting they believed the development plans were a "done deal" before residents were told of the plans for the land.

"This is going to be done," Fritze said. "This is my experience with Hagerstown. I hate this place."

"Why did they even bother having a meeting if they already knew what they were going to do?" Nearchos said.

Todd Snook has asked that the 66.67 acres, which are now in county limits, be annexed into the city. The land is contiguous to the city's boundaries and would use city water.

Snook has asked that the area north of Md. 144 be zoned residential and the land south of Md. 144 be zoned residential and commercial. The property south of Md. 144 is in the Hunt Ridge Business Park.

Commissioner John C. Munson said Tuesday he agreed with Snook's proposals and with residents who were against further industrial development on the property.

"We got to fix it right now, or people will be forced to live in what we call hell," Munson said.

County Planning Director Michael Thompson said Tuesday the requested residential and commercial zones on the now industrial land south of Md. 144 would be inconsistent with the county's Comprehensive Plan.

The land south of Md. 144 is "an area that is comprised of different types of economic development associated land uses," according to information provided by the county.

Such an area is "anticipated to be developed for light industrial parks, business parks and minor commercial uses that support job centers," according to the information.

John F. Barr, chair of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, on Oct. 13 wrote a letter to Hagerstown Mayor Richard F. Trump opposing the proposed annexation and zoning changes.

"The Economic Development Commission currently markets the HI-1 zoned Hunt Ridge Business Park to various entities including research and technology companies," Barr wrote. "We feel that the attraction of new businesses to Washington County will help increase the tax base which then allows for more and better services for our citizens. The potential of residential zoning in the Hunt Ridge Business Park is not viewed as a complement to that effort."

Barr also wrote that the EDC is not against changing the zoning of the residential area north of Md. 144.

Divelbiss said Tuesday that Snook was willing to work with officials on compatibility issues and make another presentation to the commissioners.

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