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Annexation zoning requests on fast track

County's express approval speeds process

July 18, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • Officials are considering annexing a 2-acre property adjacent to Longmeadow Shopping Center that includes a former bowling alley and an office building.
Chad Trovinger, Graphic Artist

Two proposed annexations to the City of Hagerstown and one proposed annexation to the Town of Keedysville cleared a hurdle last week when the Washington County Commissioners granted express approval for the zoning changes associated with the annexations.

One proposed city annexation is part of the Pangborn Corp. property on Pangborn Boulevard at the north end of Hagerstown. Part of the Pangborn property is already in the city, but the owner has requested annexation of the other 6.55 acres in preparation for selling the property.

The other proposed city annexation is the roughly 2-acre property adjacent to Longmeadow Shopping Center that includes a former bowling alley and an office building. Its owner has been planning to reopen a bowling alley there.

The proposed Keedysville annexation is about 18.5 acres of vacant land at the east end of town owned by Martin V.B. Bostetter Jr.

The municipalities could have annexed the properties without county approval, but without the county's express approval, they would have had to wait five years before changing the zoning to anything inconsistent with the current county zoning, said Michael C. Thompson, the county's Director of Planning and Community Development.

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Pangborn property



Pangborn Corp. has requested Neighborhood-Mixed Use zoning for its property upon annexation. The portion of the Pangborn property already in the city was recently changed from Industrial General to Neighborhood-Mixed Use, but the part in the county remains Industrial General, according to application materials.

The Pangborn property once was used to manufacture products for the metal and metalworking industries, but manufacturing there ceased in 2000 when the company began outsourcing it, Pangborn Corp. President Joseph Camerata said. Corporate offices remained at the site until they were moved to Fairburn, Ga. in 2008, he said.

The Hagerstown property now is used only for equipment testing and demonstrations, and the company is preparing to try to sell it, Camerata said.

The company has been having the property cleaned up and some of the old structures demolished to make the site more appealing, he said.

Annexation and Neighborhood-Mixed Use zoning also would help market it, he said.

Currently, the city-county line runs through the middle of buildings, dividing them into different zoning classifications, Thompson said.

Pangborn's petition for annexation also requests that the city add the property to its Partners in Economic Progress, or PEP, incentive program.

Maher said she thought the property was a good fit for PEP, which includes fast-track permitting, fee waivers, tax breaks and other incentives.

"It's one of these challenging multistory buildings where incentives would certainly make it easier" to redevelop, Maher said.

The commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday to give express approval for the Pangborn property zoning change, with William J. Wivell opposed.

Bowling alley



The bowling alley property is zoned Business Local under the county zoning ordinance, but the applicant has requested Commercial General zoning, which allows a wider variety of uses, upon annexation.

While the county's Business Local classification is meant for businesses that serve the surrounding neighborhood, the Commercial General zoning provides for businesses that serve the community, though it does not allow "big box" stores, Thompson said.

Ash Azadi, managing partner of Aristodemos Capital Group LLC, said the family entertainment center planned for the site is under construction, with a tentative completion date of March 2011. The center will include a 22 lane 10-pin center, arcade area, and party rooms and would create about 54 jobs, he said.

The second phase of the project is to rehabilitate the exterior of the office portion with stucco and replace the front entrance doors, Azadi said.

He said the annexation could possibly make the project eligible for gap financing from some of the city's loan programs.

Keedysville

The property proposed for annexation into Keedysville is vacant and is currently zoned Preservation, which allows only one developed unit per 30 acres, Thompson said. If annexed, it would be changed to the town's Suburban Residential zoning classification, which allows single family homes on lots as small as 18,000 square feet.

Keedsyville town attorney Edward Kuczynski said after the meeting that as far as he knew, the owner had no immediate plans for the property.

The commissioners voted unanimously to grant express approval for the zoning changes on the bowling alley and Keedysville properties.

Public hearings will be held on all three potential annexations before the municipalities vote on annexation.

The city has scheduled a public hearing on the bowling alley property annexation for July 27 at 7 p.m. at City Hall, city planning director Kathleen Maher said.

Public hearings on the Pangborn and Keedysville properties had not been scheduled.




Editor's note: This story was edited Monday, July 19, to correct a reporter's error about the ownership of the bowling alley property on Leitersburg Pike.

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