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Subdivisions nearer to approval

January 27, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Two planned subdivisions cleared a regulatory hurdle Tuesday when the Washington County Commissioners approved the developers' proposals for payments to offset the burden they would place on crowded schools.

One of the subdivisions, Rosehill Manor, would be developed by Dan Ryan Builders and would add 132 single-family homes off Longmeadow Road, east of Marsh Pike. That would add about 26 students to North Hagerstown High School, which is already at 99 percent capacity, county Planning Director Michael C. Thompson said.

The other, Regent Park, would be developed by Churchey Group III LLC and would add about 25 single-family homes on Trovinger Mill Road, off Jefferson Boulevard. That would add about five students to Smithsburg High School, which is already at 104 percent capacity, Thompson said.

On Tuesday, the commissioners approved proposals for Dan Ryan Builders to pay about $5,700 per unit for the Rosehill Manor development and for Churchey Group to pay about $5,800 per unit for the Regent Park development as school mitigation, as required under the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance.

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That would generate a total of about $750,000 from Rosehill Manor and about $145,000 from Regent Park.

The mitigation amounts were calculated as the difference between the projected cost of construction to accommodate the added high school students and what the new homes would already be paying toward high school construction in the form of excise tax, according to a letter from Jason Divelbiss, the attorney representing both developers.

Because the developers do not know what size homes they will build, Divelbiss assumed an average size of 2,870 square feet when calculating the anticipated excise tax contributions. In an earlier proposal, Divelbiss used the county's historic average size of 4,100 square feet, but the commissioners said this seemed too large. The lower size estimate raised the amount the developers must pay in mitigation by about $700 per unit from the earlier proposal.

The commissioners voted 3-1 to approve the proposals, with Terry Baker, James F. Kercheval and William J. Wivell in favor, and Kristin B. Aleshire opposed. Commissioners President John F. Barr was absent.

Aleshire said he thought the process for regulating new development needs an overhaul.

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