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Residents speak against Long Meadow annexation

July 27, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER
Chad Trovinger, Graphic Artist

City residents told members of the Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday they don't want the former Long Meadow Bowling Alley in the city limits if any part of it could become a night club again.

The council held a public hearing Tuesday night on a proposed annexation of the approximately 2-acre site owned by Aristodemos Capital Group LLC.

The building at 19330 Leitersburg Pike was once home to Eclipse Nite Club and Long Meadow Bowling Alley, among other businesses.

Aristodemos plans to open a family entertainment center on the site as early as March, managing partner Ash Azadi previously told the Herald-Mail.

The center would include a 22-lane bowling alley, an arcade and party rooms, he said.

Long-term plans for the space also include a night club, City Planning Director Kathy Maher said.

Residents were given a chance to comment on the proposed annexation before the council debates the issue. No one spoke in favor of the annexation.

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"I'm concerned with it being a night club," Yvonne Geary of Hagerstown said.

Joan Gilbert of Hagerstown echoed Geary's concerns, questioning what impact Aristodemos' plans would have on the surrounding community, particularly schools and churches.

Mark Meany, representing a local Neighborhoods 1st group, said he was concerned that annexing the land would open the door to problems, similar to those seen at the former Barracuda Surf Bar on Dual Highway.

The county has zoned the property business local, Maher said.

In the county's business local zone, a bowling alley would be a nonconforming use, but taverns, the nearest use to night clubs, are permitted, she said.

Aristodemos has asked the city to annex the land as C2, commercial general, she said.

Bowling alleys are permitted in C2, as are "drinking places," Maher said.

Former Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh spoke against the annexation, questioning the developer's motives for becoming part of the city.

"What does being annexed into the city do for him?" she asked.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he questioned if Aristodemos wanted in the city because of its zoning permissions.

"I think why (they) want to annex is a reasonable question," he said.

Maher said parking was a sticking point for the county when considering plans for the property.

Hagerstown uses a flexible application of parking regulations when considering changes to existing structures, she said.

Daniel DiVito, Washington County's permits and inspections director, said previously that parking and access were two big questions lingering between the project and county zoning certifications.

DiVito, who denied a certification application for the night club in February 2009, said previously that the county required Aristodemos to file a site plan because it planned major changes to vacant property.

If annexed, the property would generate taxes for the city of Hagerstown.

However, Nigh said she believed the cost of paying police officers to answer calls at a night club on that end of town would exceed any tax revenue realized through annexation.

Metzner said Hagerstown Police would respond to incidents there regardless of whether the club was in the city because of its proximity to the city line.

The council will discuss the annexation at its Aug. 10 work session, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said.

Metzner asked Zimmerman to invite Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith to attend and discuss the potential impact on police service.

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