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Council split over Eastern Boulevard rezoning

October 13, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- A stretch of Eastern Boulevard stopped the Hagerstown City Council in its tracks Tuesday during a review of the city's land uses.

As part of a comprehensive rezoning of the city, council members are considering the recommendations of the planning commission and city staff.

Council members agreed with some proposals Tuesday, but got stuck while talking about the Hagerstown YMCA property along Eastern Boulevard.

The planning commission recommended rezoning the property from Agricultural Transition to R1, a residential zone. The YMCA could get a special exception to operate in the R1 zone.

However, the YMCA has objected. It wants C2, a commercial zone that would include the YMCA as a permitted use, according to Kathleen Maher, the city's planning director.

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Councilman Forrest Easton questioned why the city would assign a zone in which the YMCA's use did not fit.

Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood said planning officials seemed to be getting rid of Agricultural Transition zones as part of the citywide review.

But the city isn't removing an agricultural zone from any farmland, Councilman Martin E. Brubaker said

Brubaker also said the YMCA's land should have an appropriate underlying use; a C2 zone could have a shopping center.

The planning commission is trying to make the zoning match the city's comprehensive plan, Maher said.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said a commercial zone might be the right use for that area in the future.

The debate continued as the council turned to another nearby parcel: the corner of Eastern Boulevard and Potomac Avenue. The parcel also is Agricultural Transition and would be switched to a mix of commercial and residential.

Easton challenged the planning commission's suggestion that a dozen residential homes might be a better fit there than a restaurant or other commercial use.

Bruchey added that, as a homeowner, he wouldn't want to be limited to right turns in and out of the property, which would be likely.

But Brubaker said people coming to the site if it were commercial probably would be less familiar with the traffic pattern.

Councilman William M. Breichner said he supported the planning commission's recommendation and the time it spent reviewing the area.

After tentatively supporting several rezoning recommendations in that area of the city, council members agreed to talk more about the Eastern Boulevard parcels next month.

The city's last comprehensive rezoning was in 1977, according to Maher.

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