A request to rezone a former industrial complex on Pangborn Boulevard continues to meet heavy resistance from the Hagerstown City Council.
Pangborn Corp., the property owner of 580 Pangborn Boulevard where a 330,154-square-feet manufacturing facility was located until it ceased operation in 2000, wants to change the current zoning from Neighborhood Mixed-Use, or N-MU, to Professional Office Mixed-Use, or POM, to increase the property’s marketability, said Pangborn Corp representative Dan Koenig.
Koenig and attorney Jason M. Divelbiss attended a council’s work session Tuesday night to ask that the matter not be sent back to the planning commission again because they “won’t have any further facts to have any further analysis.”
“And that’s why we felt (the council) needed to reach a conclusion on that issue rather than go back to the planning commission and have them rehash it, and then send it back,” Divelbiss said.
Divelbiss argued that the property should be rezoned because there was a mistake in the city’s comprehensive rezoning completed in October 2010. At that time, the city rezoned the property to N-MU even though it was “reasonably foreseeable” that all the buildings on the property would be torn down, he said.
Divelbiss said the purpose of N-MU zoning, an adaptive reuse of buildings, no longer holds true, thus creating a “mistake” that can be pursued legally.
“That assumption upon which the N-MU (zoning) was based is not there any longer,” Divelbiss said. “That’s the legal basis for mistake. That’s our argument.”
Councilman Martin E. Brubaker recommended that the request be sent back to the planning commission because its members did not hear arguments by City Attorney John H. Urner, who said Tuesday he saw no reason to think city officials had made a mistake in its comprehensive rezoning plan.
“I think it’s problematic, and I would respect the applicant if it’s still the applicant’s position that they still want this case decided without going back to the planning commission,” Urner said.
However, Urner said evidence presented in the case needs to be “fairly debatable” and he did not feel that was true from Divelbiss’ arguments.
“We adamantly disagree with that,” Divelbiss said. “I think Councilman Easton said it perfectly. The fact that we’re sitting here having a debate about it proves alone that it’s debatable.”
By the end of the lengthy and technical discussion, Brubaker made a recommendation that the case be sent back to the planning commission as a matter of administrative review.
Councilmen William M. Breichner and Forrest W. Easton agreed, while Councilman Lewis C. Metzner was against it, and Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood abstained.
The city’s planning commission held a public hearing on Oct. 26, 2011, and no one testified in opposition to the rezoning. On Nov. 9, 2011, the planning commission recommended the zoning change based on the presented arguments.
The council held a public hearing on the matter on Nov. 22, 2011. Again, no one spoke up against the rezoning request.