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Landowner eyes building 25 houses

August 23, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - The owner of a nearly six-acre parcel of land being considered for annexation has looked at building about 25 houses on the property off Eastern Boulevard, city officials said at a public hearing Tuesday.

Antietam Drive residents, whose properties abut the land, told City Council members they are concerned that development would worsen water runoff problems and create traffic headaches.

According to City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman, the city council could vote as early as its September meeting whether to annex the Shaool property. As it is zoned by Washington County, the 5.948-acre parcel is residential suburban, a designation that allows single-family and duplex housing, City Comprehensive Planner Stuart W. Bass said.

Michael Walchshauser, who has lived at 633 Antietam Drive for 20 years, said the construction of Hillside Manor has led to flooding problems for the homes below, and he predicted "major issues" if other areas are developed.

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"We're concerned that we have water problems now. They've gotten worse over the years," said Walchshauser, one of several residents who addressed the council.

According to Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire, the property owner has looked at building 25 houses. Bass called that a "preliminary number" and said the city's residential zoning would allow the same type of housing as the county's designation.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II told Walchshauser some of the issues he brought up would be addressed in the site plan application.

"As long as we have annexation, we have at least some semblance of control. If we don't have annexation, we have none," he said.

"And, we would exercise that control," Councilman Lewis B. Metzner said.

According to Metzner, the property owner must ask about annexation to get city water services, but the city would approve water services, whether or not annexation proceeds. Annexation would give the city leverage in determining the conditions of the site plan, and it would allow the city to collect taxes, Metzner said. It also potentially would open the city to greater obligations on Eastern Boulevard, he said.

"As a city, we have to decide whether to get into ownership of that part of Eastern," Metzner said.

The road, which is county-owned, could be expanded to four lanes, Bass said.

After the meeting, Walchshauser said he believes the city would try to address his concerns, if it annexes the property.

"I know that they'd work with me, but by the same token, I'd rather there not be any houses there," he said.

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