Haywood expresses doubts during Doub property discussion

December 02, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- When the Hagerstown City Council this week discussed a proposed annexation of the Doub property, known as the Doub Farm, much of the conversation centered around "big box stores."

The discussion Tuesday about the property at the intersection of U.S. 40 and Interstate 70 east of Hagerstown broached the question of whether such development suited the city's vision.

Councilwoman Ashley Haywood expressed the opinion that the concept of a retail development is "contrary to our economic vision."

One project proposed for the Doub site, the Hagerstown Towne Centre, was set to move forward in October 2008, but the Washington County Commissioners declined to grant express approval for rezoning the property to Regional Shopping Center and Professional Office Mixed-Use.

Approval is required when an annexation from the county into the City of Hagerstown would significantly change a property's zoning.

As a result of the commissioners' vote, no development can occur until five years from the effective date of annexation, according to Kathleen Maher, the city's planning director. Should the council approve the annexation, it would go into effect 45 days afterward, Maher said.


No developer currently has plans related to development on the land. The landowners are petitioning for annexation because it's a requirement in order to receive city water and sewer service.

Doub Real Estate Partnership, Shaool Holdings LLC, Day Road LLC, and Robin Brawner and Troy Brawner are listed as the petitioners.

The petition said that if annexation were granted, the petitioners would provide an annual contribution of 5 cents per square foot of newly developed commercial or office building space, not to be less than $20,000 per year for five years.

The council supported that section of the proposal, with Councilman Lewis C. Metzner saying the offer is "all to our benefit."

Much discussion centered around another offering, which reads, "at the request of the City, the Petitioners(s) or developer(s) of the Doub Farm, upon completion of construction of 120,000 square feet of retail space on the Doub Farm, shall contribute two (2) buses to the City ..."

The council supported keeping that section in the petition for annexation, with Haywood the only dissenter.

Haywood said the offer sounded like, "We'll give you a bus if you give us a shopping center."

Councilman Martin Brubaker said when the city is annexing that is the time to get things from developers. Councilman Lewis Metzner agreed.

During a discussion about the merits of busing people into downtown from retail centers such as Prime Outlets, Haywood said, "As a downtown business owner, we wouldn't have that problem if we weren't keeping Wal-Marts on the periphery," she said.

Haywood later said, "I will not support any further big box development within city limits."

Brubaker brought up the tax implications.

"They're going to develop outside the city and we won't get tax revenue," he said.

The council also reviewed the annexation agreement, discussing a section that reads, "The development of the Doub Property shall include a forty foot (40') vegetated buffer where it abuts existing residential development, or greater than forty feet (40') if required by applicable regulation."

The city currently requires a 35-foot buffer, Maher said.

Haywood said she would prefer a 100-foot buffer.

"We should try to be more protective of the existing residential development," she said.

The council asked the language in that section be changed to protect those across from Landis Road, which does not technically abut the property.

The annexation issue will be placed on the council's Dec. 15 preliminary agenda and might go to a vote at the Dec. 22 meeting.

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