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Railroad annexation to be discussed today

June 05, 2007|by JOSHUA BOWMAN

HAGERSTOWN - The Washington County Commissioners today will discuss Norfolk Southern railroad's plan to build a car storage lot on the south edge of Hagerstown.

Norfolk Southern has asked the City of Hagerstown to annex 95.2 acres of county land so the railroad can develop it as a storage area for new vehicles, according to Stuart W. Bass, the city's comprehensive planner.

"It's basically going to be a big parking lot," Bass said.

The County Commissioners will discuss the project's potential impact on nearby residents at today's meeting, County Administrator Gregory Murray said.

"There is a residential area down the street, and there are some issues that will be looked at to make sure it's not affected," Murray said.

He said the County Commissioners will discuss how lighting and noise from the property might affect residents and may also recommend that a traffic study be completed by the county engineer.

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The County Commissioners must review the annexation request to ensure the development is consistent with the property's current zoning code, Murray said.

"It has to comply for five years after annexation with the county's zoning on that property," Murray said, "which prevents the city from annexing a residential area and then immediately using it for industrial purposes."

The property is zoned for industrial use by the county and will remain so when transferred to the city, Murray said.

The property is near the intersection of West Oak Ridge Drive and Maryland Avenue. Norfolk Southern plans to build an access road to the property from West Oak Ridge Drive, according to Bass.

Bass said the railroad plans to bring vehicles in by train and store them at the property before shipping them by truck to dealerships across the country.

Construction would include grading and paving the land, building a fence around the property and laying new tracks to improve access to the property, Bass said. Norfolk Southern would also build a small office on the property, Bass said.

The city must annex the land for the project to go forward because the land is contiguous with city property and would use city water and sewer if developed, Bass said.

Bass said the railroad has estimated the cost of the project at $8 million to $10 million.




If you go



What: Public hearing to discuss a request by Norfolk Southern railroad that 95.2 acres be annexed into the City of Hagerstown

When: Tonight, 7 p.m.

Where: City Hall, 1 E. Franklin St.

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