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Council OKs plan for annexation

November 01, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown City Council is considering whether to annex about 95.2 acres of land on the southern boundary of the city so the Norfolk Southern Railway Co. can build a storage facility for new motor vehicles.

On Tuesday, the Hagerstown City Council voted 4-1 to adopt a plan to annex the land, which is near railroad tracks northwest of the intersection at Maryland Avenue and Oak Ridge Drive. Penny M. Nigh cast the lone vote against the plan.

City Comprehensive Planner Stuart Bass said Thursday that the annexation plan is an initial step in the process. The city still has to hold a public hearing, he said, before the council can vote whether to annex the land.

"All the details are yet to come," Bass said.

If the council approves the annexation, Norfolk Southern would off-load motor vehicles at the facility and store them there, according to city documents. Trucks then would pick up and deliver the vehicles to automotive dealerships across the country.

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Construction would include "grading, paving, fencing, new tracks and a new entrance road," documents show. Primary access to the property would be from Oak Ridge Drive. Documents show the property would be landscaped and surrounded by a fence.

The initial investment would be $8 million to $10 million, according to documents.

In June 2007, about 30 residents living in the area of the proposed annexation attended a City Council meeting to voice their disapproval. They presented the council with a petition that was signed by about 150 people who opposed the storage facility.

Many of the residents told the council that Norfolk Southern's proposal could increase noise and truck traffic in their neighborhood, The Herald-Mail has reported. Others said criminals would be drawn to the storage facility to steal parts from the vehicles.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said Thursday she opposed the annexation because the railroad has a history of failing to maintain its property.

"I just have very little trust in the railroad," Nigh said. "I don't know if the city will hold (Norfolk Southern's) feet to the fire."

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