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Zoning measure needed for temporary branch library

May 17, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS

If you go



What: Public hearing on proposed Washington County zoning text amendment to add libraries as a permitted use in the BL (Business Local) and BG (Business General) zoning districts

When: Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

Where: County Administration Building, 100 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown, room 227




WASHINGTON COUNTY --A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon on a zoning text amendment that would allow Washington County Free Library to proceed with its plans to open a temporary branch in the North Pointe Shopping Center.

The shopping center, off U.S. 11 north of Hagerstown, is zoned PB, or Planned Business, a district that currently does not allow libraries.

The proposed text amendment would add libraries as a permitted use in the BL (Business Local) and BG (Business General) zoning districts. While the amendment specifically addresses those two districts, by making that change, libraries also would be permitted in the PB district, as well as in the PUD (Planned Unit Development) and HI-1 (Highway Interchange) districts, because BL and BG uses are permitted in those districts.

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Presently, the zoning ordinance permits libraries by right only in the C (Conservation), A (Agriculture), RR (Residential Rural), RS (Residential Suburban), RU (Residential Urban) and RM (Residential Multifamily) districts. A library is also permitted by special exception in the BT (Business Transition) district.

The public hearing will be at 2:30 p.m., during the Washington County Commissioners' regular meeting in the County Administration Building at 100 W. Washington St.

Art Callaham, president of the Washington County Free Library Board of Trustees, said if the change is approved, the temporary branch will be on track to open in the shopping center sometime in August.

"At our last board meeting, everything seemed to be in place, except to get that text amendment passed," Callaham said.

The library system's main branch in downtown Hagerstown is closing for renovation this summer - possibly at the end of July, Callaham has said - and will be closed for 18 months to two years.

Much of that library's collection will be stored in the former Phoenix Color building, which is owned by the county, and will be made available by request, officials have said. They also hope to stock some of the more popular items in one or more temporary branches.

Space in North Pointe Shopping Center was made available for a temporary branch through a "generous offer" by the owner, Bowman Development Corp., Callaham has said.

Library officials are also getting close to securing a downtown site for another temporary branch, Callaham said Friday.

"We've had some very, very good offers," he said, but declined to name the potential sites because of ongoing negotiations.

In describing his outlook on securing a downtown site, Callaham made reference to Ivory soap's famous slogan, "99 4/100 percent pure."

"I feel Ivory-soap confident that we'll have a physical presence - not the bookmobile, but in a facility - in the downtown," he said.

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