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Some blast strip mall plan

March 13, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - Washington County residents turned out Monday night to oppose a Hagerstown man's request to rezone his property to allow the possible construction of a strip mall between I-70 and U.S. 40 east of Hagerstown.

About 25 of the 100 people who attended a joint meeting of the Washington County Commissioners and Washington County Planning Commission expressed their disapproval.

None of the speakers supported Kent N. Oliver's proposal to rezone 60 acres near Beaver Creek and White Hall roads from agricultural to highway-interchange usage.

Highway interchange allows for the construction of strip malls, among other commercial uses.

As part of the rezoning proposal, Oliver said he would dedicate another 60 acres that are contiguous to the east of the property in question for the construction of a high school to accommodate future growth.

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Almost all of the speakers lived in the area of the rezoning proposal.

Patricia Young said she moved to Hagerstown from Frederick to escape the urban sprawl.

"We like one-lane bridges," she said.

It's better to smell manure than fumes from diesel fuel, she said.

Pierce Stine said he thought the rezoning is just the first step of bringing a Super Wal-Mart to the neighborhood.

The existing roads would not be able to support the additional traffic, he said.

With Prime Outlets only 3 miles away from the proposed construction site, Stine said there isn't a need for another retail shopping center.

Hagerstown Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh vowed to fight the rezoning request.

"I think this would be a huge mistake," she said. "As long as I am on that council ... I will vote against this."

One woman said another strip mall would prevent the revitalization of businesses downtown.

Jason Divelbiss, Oliver's attorney, said after the speakers presented their cases that he understood everyone's concerns.

He argued, however, that Oliver shouldn't be kept from rezoning the property because other people want to protect their own.

Divelbiss also said the county would benefit by getting 60 acres to build a high school.

Running water and sewer to the property would be the financial responsibility of the potential developer, he said.

No action was taken.

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