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Smithsburg-area residents oppose planned Sheetz at Md. 64 and Md. 66

April 21, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

SMITHSBURG -- Some Smithsburg-area residents are opposed to a local developer's plans to build a Sheetz at the intersection of Md. 64 and Md. 66.

Several residents who live near the intersection spoke at a public meeting Monday night held by the Washington County Planning Commission, saying the Sheetz is unnecessary, and that it would increase traffic and lower property values in the area.

Most of those residents live on Paden Avenue, a small residential street that connects Md. 64 and Md. 66 near the intersection.

The Sheetz, which is being proposed by Bowman Development Corp., would be built between Paden Avenue and the intersection.

"I don't have anything against Mr. (Donald M.) Bowman. But he doesn't live on Paden Avenue," resident Kevin Lewis said.

Bowman is asking the county to rezone a 3/4-acre parcel of land near the intersection from residential to commercial use so the Sheetz can be built.

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While Bowman owns the property adjacent to the intersection, representatives for Bowman Development said Monday that without both pieces of land, the Sheetz will be hard to develop.

Krista A. McGowan, an attorney with Frederick, Md.-based Miles & Stockbridge who represented Bowman at Monday's meeting, told the planning commission that the neighborhood has changed since the property was zoned residential.

She noted that the other three corners of the intersection are occupied for commercial use. The intersection includes an AC&T gas station, Cavetown Liquors and Cavetown Storage.

McGowan also said construction of the nearby Food Lion shopping center in the late 1980s helped turn the neighborhood into a commercial area.

But some residents said another gas station is not the kind of commercial development the intersection needs.

"We could use another restaurant, probably another doctor's office," said Jerome Martin, who serves as a Smithsburg town councilman. "Smithsburg has a character that is hard to find anywhere else. And I'm embarrassed to say that the gateway to our neighborhood will be an AC&T and a Sheetz."

Paden Avenue residents said a Sheetz will add to what they called an already substantial amount of cut-through traffic on their street.

"A lot of people use Paden as a shortcut to get around the intersection (of Md. 64 and Md. 66). You put a Sheetz in there and that's going to get a lot worse," Ken Wivell said.

Wivell and others also said they expect property values to decrease on Paden Avenue if Sheetz moves in.

The planning commission did not issue an opinion on the rezoning during Monday's meeting, which was the first to be held under the county's new rezoning procedures.

Instead, the public record will be left open until the Washington County Commissioners hold a public hearing on the rezoning case.

Between now and then, the planning commission will issue an opinion and citizens will be allowed to comment on the case.

All written comments and additional information will be posted on the county's Web site, Planning Commission Chairman George Anikis said Monday.

The county commissioners will make the final decision about the rezoning.

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