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Parts of 95 properties eyed for annexation into city

March 28, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Alex Rohrbaugh
Alex Rohrbaugh

HAGERSTOWN — Remnants of an old city boundary have Hagerstown eyeing portions of 95 properties for annexation.

City Planner Alex Rohrbaugh said city staff has proposed annexing 95 split parcels, many that were cut by a 1914 city line that he said was laid out as “an arbitrary rectangle.”

Split parcels are properties through which the municipal boundary passes, and only part of the parcel is within city limits, according to city documents.

A state law gives municipalities the power to annex certain split parcels until Sept. 30, 2011, without obtaining approval of the property owners or registered voters, Rohrbaugh said.

The city attempted to make every property owner aware if their land was included in the annexation plan, he said. The city plans to notify owners again before it holds a public hearing, he said.

Senate Bill 350, which went into effect Oct. 1, 2009, restricts such annexations to split parcels of less than 5 acres and limits total areas to be annexed to no more than 25 acres, he said. Split parcels zoned agricultural could not be annexed under the law, he said.

Hagerstown has proposed annexing a total of 21.84 acres.

Annexing the parcels would not only neaten the boundary, it would eliminate discrepancies between city and county services and taxes, Rohrbaugh said.

All but three parcels are residential, according to city documents.

While some already are part of the city’s assessable tax base, annexing the parcels would add an estimated $8.7 million to the city base, according to city documents.

That does not translate to significant tax revenue, Rohrbaugh said.

“I’d say that would bring in, and this is a ballpark, about $50,000 in taxes,” he said.

While the tax impact is not significant, staff felt it necessary to take advantage of the two-year window set by the bill to clean up the boundary and service discrepancies, he said.

Portions of each parcel are in the city and portions are in the county, so the distribution of services — including trash, emergency services, water, sewer, power and streets — are “all over the place,” he said.

Of the 95 parcels, 89 are developed, according to an annexation plan adopted March 22 by the city council.

Of all the parcels, 17 do not have city sewer service, 12 do not have city water and three have county sewer service, the plan said.

Hagerstown Light Department, which has a fixed service boundary, supplies 53 of the parcels with electric, while the remaining developed parcels receive service from Allegheny Power, now called Potomac Edison, according to the plan. If any of the undeveloped parcels are developed in the future, it would be supplied with power by Potomac Edison, the plan said.

All but five of the parcels front on existing city or county public roads.

Rohrbaugh said owners of all 95 parcels receive the county tax differential, but not all owners pay city taxes.

Some are tax-exempt, some pay taxes to the city and others — who are not exempt — still do not pay city taxes, he said.

Property-owner approval might not be required for the city to move forward with annexation, but based on state law, Hagerstown must hold a public hearing on the proposed annexation.

Rohrbaugh said a public hearing has been scheduled for April 26.

To take advantage of the SB 350 window, he said the city would have to approve the annexation no later than August.

After the hearing in April, city staff members will bring the plan back to the council for discussion at a work session, most likely in May, he said.

It will be up to the council whether it annexes all of the parcels, some of the parcels or none of them, Rohrbaugh said. 

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