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Residents protest addition of residential-multifamily zoning to property near Longmeadow Road

It is one of hundreds of properties set to receive new zoning under a comprehensive rezoning of the roughly 35,000-acre Urban Growth Area

December 13, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • In this file photo, Jason Divelbiss, left, an attorney representing developers, speaks to Washington County Commissioners on the topic of excise tax changes. Divelbiss, an attorney representing Callas Contractors, said there is no project or plan for a six-acre property owned by Callas Contractors Inc. south of Longmeadow Road.
Herald-Mail file photo

Residents of a neighborhood near Longmeadow Road turned out in force for a Washington County public hearing Tuesday to protest the addition of residential-multifamily zoning to a nearby property.

The property, six acres owned by Callas Contractors Inc. south of Longmeadow Road, is one of hundreds of properties set to receive new zoning under a comprehensive rezoning of the roughly 35,000-acre Urban Growth Area around Hagerstown, Williamsport and Funkstown.

Tuesday's public hearing was the third the county has held on the proposed comprehensive UGA rezoning.

Neighbors of the Longmeadow Road property said they were concerned that allowing high-density housing would lead to crime, traffic problems and pollution from expansion of a nearby sewage plant. The six acres are currently zoned residential-suburban.

Jason Divelbiss, an attorney representing Callas Contractors, said there is no project or plan for the property. The multifamily designation was suggested to make the property consistent with the neighboring Hunter Hills Apartments, he said.

The private sewage treatment plant that serves Hunter Hills Apartments is being upgraded to meet modern standards because it was on the verge of failing, Divelbiss said.

"The work that's being done on that plant is not to facilitate any development on this or any other property," he said.

Another topic raised at Tuesday's meeting was the zoning for Meritus Medical Center and the nearby Mount Aetna Farms property. Both have been proposed for Office, Research and Technology zoning, but owners of both properties are now requesting Office, Research and Industry zoning, which allows a broader range of uses.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation, or CHIEF, plans to develop Mount Aetna Farms as a high-tech or biotechnology park, and those type of businesses will want the ability to do testing and development, CHIEF President Gregory Snook said.

"ORI gives us flexibility for that," Snook said.

The commissioners will review the new testimony before deciding how to proceed on the UGA rezoning at a future meeting.

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