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Comprehensive plan focuses on development

December 18, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - Hagerstown officials plan to hold a public hearing in January to unveil the city's comprehensive plan, a document that will provide the framework for local development over the next 20 years.

City Planning Director Kathleen Maher said Monday the main concern for the future is to maintain adequate sewer services to accommodate population growth. From 1950 to 2000, for example, the city experienced a 1 percent growth in population. It has quadrupled since then, she said.

Maher said she worked with City Councilman Martin Brubaker, Hagerstown Planning Commission Chairman Douglas S. Wright Jr. and other officials from the city and county to prepare the plan.

The comprehensive plan was designed, in part, as a proactive measure to ensure the city would have the proper infrastructure in place to maintain a high quality of life for residents as growth occurs, Brubaker said.

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The group also looked at ways to improve and build roads that would abate congestion and support increased traffic flow.

To pay for roads and sewers in areas of new development, the group suggested charging developers rather than taxing existing residents.

Wright said although city officials are powerless to limit population growth, they could limit development in an effort to keep stress from increasing on the city's infrastructure. He said the group anticipates about 6,605 residential units could be built in Hagerstown within the next 20 years without major problems.

Maher said the comprehensive plan calls for a change in zoning to attract office parks and research activities - instead of retail and manufacturing - to draw more lucrative jobs. In the downtown, the group wants zoning to allow for a mixture of commercial and residential use, she said.

The Hagerstown City Council will receive briefings on the comprehensive plan during the council's first three work sessions in January, Maher said. If everything goes well, the public hearing would be Jan. 29.

The City Council would have the final say on whether to adopt the plan, she said.

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