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County gives green light to Boonsboro rezoning

May 23, 2007|by TAMELA BAKER

HAGERSTOWN - More than 800 acres recently annexed into Boonsboro edged closer to development Tuesday as the Washington County Commissioners approved the town's request for "express approval" to rezone them.

The catch is that the total development will be limited to 1,640 new sewer service taps, and building permits will only be issued if the developments comply with the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance.

Boonsboro is under a state consent order to build a new water treatment plant by 2010 to comply with discharge permit requirements by the Maryland Department of the Environment. Town officials told the commissioners the property had been annexed so the developers would help pay for the nearly $10 million plant.

But the properties must be rezoned before they can be developed, and the town must have rezoning in place and commitments from developers by July in order to get additional money for the project from MDE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Town Planner Derek Meyers said.

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Because the previous county zoning would have to be changed to allow residential development on most of the annexed area, the town needed "express approval" to rezone it - otherwise, it could not be developed according to the town's zoning plans for another five years, Washington County Planning Director Michael Thompson explained.

Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire noted the county's planning commission had several concerns about the request, including proposed densities, school capacity, and water and sewer issues.

Town Attorney William C. Wantz said the town planned to set up a water tap for every sewer tap granted. Development would have to meet the APFO requirements, which include school capacity.

"We're looking at every chance to succeed in funding this unfunded mandate," Wantz said, adding the town can put limitations on development if necessary.

The commissioners approved the request, but Aleshire remained unconvinced. He was the lone dissenter.

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