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Hagerstown delays decision on annexing, rezoning site of proposed $242 million shopping center

April 03, 2008|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday chose to hold off on deciding whether to annex and rezone property so a $242 million shopping center could be built at the intersection of U.S. 40 and Interstate 70.

Last week, developer Phillip Ross, president of the Mid-Atlantic developing firm Petrie Ross Ventures, told the council and several residents that he would like the council to consider annexing and rezoning the land - a decision that would allow him to build the shopping center and business offices to the immediate east.

Ross said the development would encompass about 120 acres, create 9,000 jobs and generate roughly $1.1 million in annual tax revenue for the city.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said during Tuesday's debate that he didn't see the need for Ross' project because another retail center was being discussed for development directly across Interstate 70.

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"I don't know how they could be compatible," he said.

Metzner said he would prefer more feedback from the community before he makes a decision.

The council discussed whether the development would slow the revival of downtown, an area in which city officials have been trying to stimulate business and residential development.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said Ross' proposal would "kill" all hope for the downtown.

"We're (already) loaded with retail in this area," she said.

Councilwoman Alesia Parson-McBean said the council had to be realistic when considering the growth of downtown. A large department store, for example, likely wouldn't open downtown, but on the fringe of the city, she said.

Parson-McBean said the downtown should focus on attracting smaller businesses.

The issue will be discussed further during a public hearing at 7 p.m. April 22 in City Hall.

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