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Planners concerned about proposal

January 10, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY

tarar@herald-mail.com

A proposed 137-unit development on Bower Avenue near Sterling Road received a cool reception Monday night from some Washington County Planning Commission members.

The commission members said they were concerned about traffic generated by the proposed development and noise from nearby Interstate 70 that might affect residents living there.

"People that buy in there are going to have to know that there's going to be a lot of noise ... in their backyard," Planning Commission Chairman Donald Ardinger said.

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The comments came up while the Planning Commission discussed preliminary plans for the development, known as the Allison Avenue Project.

Portrait Homes has proposed 137 town houses on 24 acres along the west side of Bower Avenue, just north of the Sterling Road intersection. Five to six units would be built per acre, according to the Planning Commission's preliminary report.

The developer also has proposed applying for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning designation, which allows for higher-density projects.

A PUD is a designation that is placed over a site's existing zoning classification. The Bower Avenue property is zoned agricultural.

A public hearing on the proposal might be held in March.

The development, if approved, would be in the Williamsport school attendance areas, according to the preliminary report.

Based on the 90 percent capacity threshold the county uses to determine whether a school has adequate room to handle enrollment increases, Williamsport Elementary School and Williamsport High School are overcapacity. Springfield Middle School is considered adequate.

Planning Commission member Bernard Moser said he thought the density for the proposed development was too high and that he would not be in favor of the developer receiving a PUD for the property.

Planning Commission member Linda Parrish said, with the proposed development, there would be drainage, noise, traffic and school problems.

"That's just too many damn cars dumping on Bower Avenue," Planning Commission member George Anikis said.

"It's just shoehorned in there," he said. "I don't see how you can get around that."

Another proposed residential development, which had called for 1,267 units, would be on Sterling Road, southwest of the Allison Avenue Project, county Senior Planner Lisa Kelly Pietro said.

The developer of that project, Williamsport Ventures LLC, withdrew a request for a PUD after the Planning Commission recommended that the Washington County Commissioners deny it.

County Planning Director Michael Thompson said late last month that the developer planned to resubmit the plan after considering comments from the Planning Commission. A public hearing for the Williamsport Ventures project could be held in March, he said.

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