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No agreement on city's proposed annexation policy change

November 17, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- The city and county governments failed Tuesday to agree on how to encourage commercial growth in Halfway's Hopewell Valley.

During a joint meeting, the government bodies debated the best way for the city to extend water service.

For years, the city has insisted on annexing outside land in exchange for water service -- either right away or once the land becomes contiguous to city boundaries.

The city has proposed exempting Hopewell Valley, a business-heavy area, from the policy in exchange for 50 percent of the tax revenue the city would have received if the property were annexed and the owner paid city taxes.

Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire, a former city councilman, said the 50-percent level will fail and suggested a system based more on recouping the cost of the utility service.

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But Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the city is focusing on the annexation issue.

The city has proposed expanding its Medium Range Growth Area, making businesses there eligible for city water and sewer service as outside customers. Hopewell Valley, Friendship Technology Park in the Halfway area and Hagerstown Regional Airport, north of the city, would be affected.

Responding to city officials' questions, Timothy Troxell -- the executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission -- said the EDC hasn't taken a stance on the city's proposals.

Asked by Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II if eliminating the uncertainty of preannexation agreements for water service would make it easier to market business properties, Troxell said, "Absolutely."

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