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Court upholds zoning for development

Concerned residents say they're considering another appeal

Concerned residents say they're considering another appeal

March 21, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY

The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland has upheld a November 2002 decision by the Washington County Commissioners to rezone land for a proposed 595-unit development off Mount Aetna Road near Hagerstown.

The court ruled in a March 9 written decision that "we are satisfied that there was sufficient evidence supporting the decision by the Washington County Commissioners to approve the application for re-zoning."

The commissioners agreed on Nov. 19, 2002, to rezone 220 acres near Black Rock Golf Course from agriculture to a Planned Unit Development (PUD) overlay zoning designation.

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A PUD allows for a mix of housing types in a more-concentrated area than an agriculture zone would allow.

Developer Manny Shaool has proposed building 100 town houses, 50 two-family units, 180 condominiums and 265 single-family homes on the site.

Planning Director Michael Thompson said Monday the development is known as the "Black Rock PUD" and is adjacent to the existing Black Rock development. Some of the streets in the proposed development would be shared with the existing development, he said.

Black Rock residents J. Michael Nye, Nickolas Orfan and Kurt Cushwa filed an appeal in March 2003 in Washington County Circuit Court to the commissioners' decision. The Circuit Court ruled in favor of the county, and the residents appealed that decision to the Court of Special Appeals.

The residents' concerns about the proposed development included the impact it would have on roads and schools. They also said witnesses who testified during a county public hearing were not sworn in.

Nye said Monday the residents are considering appealing the Court of Specials Appeals' decision.

He said he felt residents could not count on elected officials to follow their own growth regulations, so it was necessary for the residents to act.

"If our citizens can't expect our elected officials to follow their own rules ... then we have no choice but to do it ourselves," Nye said.

In a related matter, Nye and Cushwa appealed a 2004 decision by the Washington County Planning Commission that granted preliminary development plan approval for the Black Rock PUD project.

The county's Board of Zoning Appeals earlier this month denied the appeal and upheld the Planning Commission's decision. Nye said he and Cushwa are considering appealing that ruling.

Thompson said construction of the development has not started.

"It has not been built at all, because (it) has been in court," Thompson said.

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