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County planning commission votes against development

Four of seven members abstain from voting

Four of seven members abstain from voting

November 08, 2005|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN

tarar@herald-mail.com

Voicing concerns over school capacities and traffic, the Washington County Planning Commission on Monday night decided not to support a more than 1,200-unit development along Sterling Road near Williamsport.

The Planning Commission voted 3-0 to recommend that the Washington County Commissioners deny a request from Williamsport Ventures LLC for a zoning designation that would allow for greater housing density at the site.

It's up to the County Commissioners to make the final decision.

The proposed development would be built along Sterling Road at the intersection of Edward Doub Road and stretch to Kendle Road.

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"It's going to be a lot of cars on some back roads, is what it amounts to," Planning Commission member R. Ben Clopper said.

Planning Commission member George Anikis said the 1,267-unit development, while technically in the Urban Growth Area (UGA), is surrounded by rural land.

The Urban Growth Area is a designated area where growth is encouraged.

"It's a nice housing development," Anikis said. "I just don't think it belongs stuck out there."

Anikis said the proposed development would create a "city" bigger than Sharpsburg or Boonsboro that would be "on the edge of what is the UGA."

The proposed development would take up several parcels totaling 328 acres. It would consist of 393 single-family homes on 80-foot-wide lots, 172 single-family homes on 60-foot-wide lots, 766 town houses and 108 condominiums, planning officials have said.

The developer, Heritage Land Development in Glenwood, Md., is operating under Williamsport Ventures LLC for the project, Planning Director Michael Thompson said in July.

The developer applied for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning designation for the property.

While all seven Planning Commission members were at Monday night's meeting, just three - Anikis, Clopper and Linda Parrish - voted to make the recommendation to the commissioners.

Ex-officio member James F. Kercheval abstained from the vote, because he will vote on the request as a commissioner. Members Bernard Moser and Terry Reiber abstained because they didn't attend a public hearing held on the zoning request in September.

Planning Commission Chairman Donald Ardinger didn't vote, because he only votes to break ties.

Parrish said she liked the proposal, but that it lacked a plan for school and traffic issues.

"Without a plan in place, I don't think I can support it either," Parrish said.

Most of the development would be in the Williamsport school attendance area. A small portion of it would be part of the Fountain Rock district, county officials have said.

Kercheval said Monday the proposed development would require almost an entire elementary school to accommodate the number of students who would live there.

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