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Traffic study gets mixed reviews

January 11, 2006|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

The Hagerstown City Council had mixed reactions Tuesday night to a traffic study that argues 243 new homes at a 28-acre property off Howell Road would be less intensive than if the land were developed under its current industrial zoning.

City Council reviewed a traffic impact study on the plan Tuesday night, summarized by City Engineer Rodney Tissue, that determined the homes would generate less traffic than either a medical or dental office, as is currently permitted under city zoning.

The developer has proposed to build a new Paul Smith Boulevard, which Tissue said would loop around the land and divert traffic from Edgewood Drive and Dual Highway. He noted that intersection already is functioning below traffic standards, and would continue to even with the road and planned improvements to Dual Highway.

"That intersection is still going to have a fixed capacity, even after the widening," he said.

Tissue said if council wants to approve the rezoning and annexation, it should do so under several conditions, including that the new road be built and improvements to Dual Highway begin before construction starts on any of the homes; that the city create a new assessment district to generate revenue for the city; and that a more comprehensive traffic study be performed during the land development phase of the project.

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"From what I've seen so far, it looks like just what I was asking the developer for," Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire objected to the plan and said the land should be kept as industrial to help the city with economic development issues.

"I have a different philosophy as to how this land should be developed," he said. "It should be commercial. I think it's inappropriate to rezone this to residential strictly for the purposes of adding more residential."

Aleshire said rezoning the land could open the city up to more requests because there are several more parcels of land surrounding the property now zoned for industrial uses. City Attorney John Urner said the city should expect that if it supports the change.

The council did not formally vote on the matter at the work session, but it is scheduled to consider other issues of the proposal in the future, including zoning matters to be discussed at its next meeting.

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