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Hagerstown City Council briefs

November 03, 2005|b ANDREW SCHOTZ

Tax credits mulled for city homeowners



The city is considering a tax-credit program for home-owners who fix up their property.

Owners of single-family homes would have to spend at least $20,000 on improvements to be eligible. For multifamily residences, the minimum would be $20,000 per unit.

Owners would get tax abatements for five years equal to the amount of their investment, Economic Development Director Deborah Everhart told the Hagerstown City Council during a presentation Tuesday.

Some council members wondered about possible loopholes and administrative snags.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said owners might make improvements right before their property is reassessed to offset increases that would have come anyway because of market conditions.

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Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said it would be tough to put a value on improvements property owners do themselves, rather than paying someone else or a company.

Both Aleshire and Metzner stressed that they support the tax-credit idea.

The idea for the program came from the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission's Intergovernmental Committee, according to a city memo.

Everhart said Washington County will be asked if it wants to offer the same credits.




Council criticizes plan for town houses



A developer's plan to build up to 91 town houses off North Burhans Boulevard was met with resistance at Tuesday's Hagerstown City Council meeting.

Bruce Pitts, the president of Monument Development in Darnestown, Md., is considering putting a pair of three-acre parcels together - one commercial, the other residential - to build the town homes.

Pitts has asked for a planned-unit overlay, which gives flexibility to someone who proposes a "total development concept," the city's zoning ordinance says.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire criticized the plan for various reasons.

Aleshire said one parcel is in a commercial corridor. Also, residents would be limited with what they can do with their homes and the project doesn't meet parking requirements, he said.

Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer said she didn't like seeing the plan call for the back of homes to face the road.

The current owner, Ed Baer, tried several times to do something with the land, but "it's a difficult property," said Stephen R. Bockmiller, a development review planner and zoning administrator for the city.

For the project, Pitts is proposing to build a new road connecting Mitchell Avenue and North Burhans Boulevard, Bockmiller wrote in a memo.

Pitts told the City Council that he expects to have to cut the number of units as the review process continues. He said he'll try to address the council's concerns.




Memorial dedication set for Veterans Day



A dedication ceremony for a new veterans memorial on Memorial Boulevard, near Rose Hill Cemetery, will be held on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at 1:30 p.m., Mayor Richard F. Trump said Tuesday.

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