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Panel approves plans for Stone House Square

November 03, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

The Hagerstown Planning Commission on Thursday approved site plans for Stone House Square - a shopping center that will bring significant changes to Md. 60 just north of Eastern Boulevard.

It also will eliminate the merge required of traffic turning right onto Md. 60 from Eastern Boulevard as developer Faison & Associates of Bethesda, Md., opens a second northbound lane in the area.

That lane, at a cost of more than $800,000, came at the Maryland Department of Transportation's request.

Jim Castillo, Faison's retail development director, said he will approach the city council for tax credits or financial assistance for the lane since he doesn't agree the shopping center will generate enough traffic to warrant it. The lane necessitates bridge work on wetlands.

The planning commission's unanimous approval, which only applies to the subdivision and not traffic patterns on the state road, came after presentations about architecture, landscaping, merchandising areas and traffic flows in the parking lots.

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The property was annexed into the city in 2004. Concept plans first entered the review process 18 months ago.

"This is probably the most extensive site plan, 87 pages, that this commission has ever seen," said Steve Bockmiller, city development planner and zoning administrator.

Stone House Square takes its name from a landmark house that will be used by a food service tenant. The shopping center is anchored by a Lowe's home improvement store and an unidentified grocery store with gas pumps under a canopy.

The center also includes a Chevy Chase Bank and two retail outparcels that mirror each other. Those buildings are designed with stone features to complement the 1800s house.

Howard Biel, a senior managing director with Faison, said nearly everything at the center will be open for holiday shopping in 2007.

An additional $1.5 million of roadway improvements include two lanes southbound on Md. 60, a concrete median dividing the highway, three traffic signals and several hundred feet of new lanes going east and west on Eastern Boulevard. Trees and masonry walls are planned to shield the center from adjacent residential development.

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