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Planners waive stadium project parking limits

February 23, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown Planning Commission on Wednesday eliminated two parking restrictions on the North Hagerstown High School stadium project.

In approving a stadium site plan last month, the Planning Commission said the school parking lot must connect to the Washington County Health Department's lot next door.

The commission also said the school can't hold other events when the stadium is used.

Those conditions were imposed because the school's parking falls about 15 percent short of the minimum number of spaces required for the stadium. Spaces at the Health Department lot will make up the difference.

The Planning Commission changed course Wednesday and voted 4-2 to allow other activities while the stadium is used, as long as there is enough parking for all events.

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The commission also voted 4-2 to waive the requirement that the school's lot directly connect to the Health Department's.

Commission member Martin E. Brubaker, who voted against both motions, said people unfamiliar with the neighborhood might have trouble finding the Health Department lot.

A private committee has been raising money to build Mike Callas Stadium, which will have a football field, track, bleachers and more. The capital campaign began with a goal of $2.3 million, but the project cost has increased to $3.5 million, mostly from private sources.

The two parking requirements were among the conditions set last month when the Planning Commission approved a stadium site plan by a 5-1 vote.

The stadium committee later asked the commission to waive the requirements.

Stephen Bockmiller, the city's development planner and zoning administrator, said Wednesday that the fire marshal's office had concerns about a potential traffic bottleneck if the lots were connected.

Commission Chairman Douglas S. Wright Jr. objected to allowing other school events at the same time as stadium events. He said the commission seems to be "walking away" from its parking regulations.

The city's zoning ordinance requires one parking space per three stadium seats.

North High's stadium would require 622 parking spaces; Bockmiller has said the school has 531 parking spaces.

The school system is working with the Health Department to use 89 spaces in its lot.

The Planning Commission also voted 6-0 to approve a forest conservation plan in which 20 trees would be planted along Pennsylvania Avenue and seven more along West Irvin Avenue.

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