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County Commissioners look at rezoning

January 09, 2007|By TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN

Washington County has taken the first steps to rezone parts of the county around the City of Hagerstown and other municipalities in an effort to better manage growth.

The County Commissioners agreed at Tuesday's meeting to form an advisory committee of area residents to provide feedback on the process that will rezone the Urban and Town Growth areas.

The county estimates the rezoning will take about a year.

Commissioner James F. Kercheval expected the changes to be significant.

"I don't see the county looking the same at the end of this process at all," Kercheval said Tuesday during a commissioners meeting.

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Chief Planner Stephen Goodrich said the rezoning process could include creating new zoning districts, removing others and making changes to zoning designations that will remain in use.

"Washington County is at a point where we have to change our philosophy of where development occurs," Goodrich said.

The commissioners rezoned rural areas of the county in July 2005.

The Urban Growth Area consists mainly of 38,542 acres in the City of Hagerstown and surrounding areas. The county's three Town Growth areas consist of 2,855 acres in the Hancock area, 2,684 in the Boonsboro area and 2,115 acres in the Smithsburg area, Planning Director Michael Thompson said..

Thompson said the areas to be rezoned will include only those in the county's jurisdiction, not in the municipalities' jurisdictions.

There was some discussion among the commissioners about whether they should know beforehand the capacities for services provided by the county, like water, sewer and roads. Commissioners Kristin B. Aleshire and William J. Wivell said that would help design the rezoning.

"The capacity analysis should drive the rezoning," Wivell said.

Aleshire said he thought the county should complete updates to its water and sewer master plan before it develops the rezoning plan.

In addition to the advisory committee, Goodrich said the county will hold meetings to gather feedback from residents.

"Citizens play a major role in how this zoning in the growth area is going to shape up," Goodrich said.

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