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Hagerstown briefs

August 16, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

CAC wants building for temporary shelter

The Washington County Community Action Council plans to buy a five-unit apartment building at 614-616 W. Washington St. and make it a temporary place where homeless families and men with children could stay.

Under the plan outlined in a city Community Development Department memo, CAC is asking for a $360,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

The memo says the CAC would sell property on North Mulberry Street when it buys the West Washington Street property.

Hagerstown City Council members on Tuesday informally agreed to support the CAC's grant application.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh urged the CAC to make sure it is helping needy Washington County people, rather than those from other areas.

City to reject bids for Market House work

The city plans to reject three bids for heating, ventilation and air conditioning work at the Market House at 25 W. Church St.


A memo by Eric Deike, the manager of the Public Works Department, says the lowest bid, by M.S. Johnston Inc., was $269,000. The city had budgeted about $150,000 for the work.

Deike's memo says the city could negotiate changes to the contract to cut costs. For example, mounting HVAC units on the roof instead of in the parking lot added about $50,000 to $75,000 to the bid prices, the memo says.

Leash ordinance considered for dogs

The city is considering forcing owners to keep their dogs on leashes in public.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the city could keep the ordinance simple: face a fine if they don't use leashes and if they don't clean up after their dogs.

Council members debated whether police officers would enforce the law, as Metzner suggested.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said it would be a low priority for police.

Wondering if cats might be included in the law, Nigh said, "That's another can of worms."

"Who walks a cat?," Councilwoman Alesia D. Parson-McBean asked.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II directed the city attorney's office to look into possibilities for an ordinance.

Vacant building proposal draws fire

The latest version of a plan to regulate vacant buildings came before the Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday.

This time, Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer said the plan - forcing owners of vacant buildings to get licenses - was not what the council envisioned.

She said she supports fining owners, but not requiring them to get licenses.

"I think that's going to deter people from owning property in the downtown area," she said.

Under the proposed law, building owners would have to pay license fees set by how long the buildings have been vacant.

For a building continuously vacant for six months to two years, an owner would pay $250 a year. A license for a building vacant more than four years would cost $1,000 a year.

John Lestitian, the city's chief code enforcement officer, who helped craft the proposal, said he was "a bit perplexed" by the new objection to a proposal that's been in the works for months.

When the council discussed the proposal in June, Cromer recommended changing some of the wording, but did not ask to eliminate licensing.

"I think we're on the right track," Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said at the time.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said Tuesday that his concern was that the ordinance should better reflect safety issues, if that's what the city is worried about.

Metzner and Lestitian agreed to talk further about possible changes to the proposed law.

Trick-or-treating date, time recommended

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith has recommended that trick-or-treating be allowed in the city on Oct. 31 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Noting that Oct. 31 is a Tuesday, when the Hagers-town City Council usually meets, Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh wondered if council members might dress up in costumes and hand out candy in front of City Hall.

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