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County says no to zoning change

August 10, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Commissioners rejected a request to change the zoning for nearly 180 acres adjacent to the Westfields development along Sharpsburg Pike to a higher-density district.

The County Commissioners agreed by consensus Tuesday to deny the request by Hashempour Consulting & Management LLC.

The official vote is expected to take place next month.

None of the commissioners supported the request. Commissioners James F. Kercheval and Doris J. Nipps said the request didn't make sense and that the zoning change would be inappropriate for the land.

The Washington County Planning Commission last month recommended that the commissioners deny the request.

The 178.8-acre property is on the west side of Md. 65 (Sharpsburg Pike), north of the intersection with Md. 68.

Hashempour requested that the land's zoning be changed from agriculture rural to rural village.

Washington County Senior Planner Misty Wagner-Grillo said Wednesday that the rural village designation allows for more homes than the agriculture designation.

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Wagner-Grillo said Hashempour did not say exactly what was planned for the land.

William C. Wantz, a Hagerstown attorney who represents Hashempour, said there were no development plans at the time for the land.

Because the property is near the rural village of Lappans and the Westfields development, which is in the Urban Growth Area, Wantz said he and his client believe the land in question was mistakenly downzoned when the county approved its rural rezoning plan last year.

As a result, the higher-density zoning should be allowed for the land, Wantz said.

The current zoning deprives the property owner of a significant part of his investment, Wantz said.

In a staff report, Wagner-Grillo wrote that there was no mistake in the property's existing zoning.

Wagner-Grillo said Hashempour may appeal the decision to Washington County Circuit Court or wait a year before reapplying for another zoning change.

Wantz said he did not yet know what the next step would be for Hashempour.

Westfields, which is being developed by Westfields Development, is planned to have more than 770 homes.

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