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Hagerstown City Council updates code for kennels and conversion districts

Action to allow kennels in commercial districts when certain conditions are met

March 29, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council has unanimously adopted an ordinance to update its Land Management Code for kennels and conversion districts.

The changes approved Tuesday will allow more flexibility for economic development, while maintaining the quality of life for residential areas, city Planning Director Kathleen A. Maher said.

The action was taken after plans were submitted to the city to open a doggy day care facility, or kennel, in a commercial district, but kennels were permitted only in industrial districts under the former code, Maher said.

In many cases, commercial districts are located near residential areas, which raised concerns for city officials.

“To let it move forward, we’ve proposed some conditions so that it could occur, but it would protect the surrounding quality of life,” Maher said.

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The changes require kennels — defined as any building or land used for housing or boarding of more than five adult dogs — in commercial districts to have solid fencing at least 6 feet high and be set back at least 100 feet from any nearby residential property.

Also, the total number of dogs permitted at any one time shall not exceed one dog per 100 square feet of combined interior and exterior space.

“We’re trying to protect against noise and odor for the surrounding area,” Maher said. “With these changes, we’ll be allowing kennels in commercial districts if they meet those conditions.”

Changes were also made to the rules for city conversion districts, which are special overlay zoning tools to be used for old, multistory structures that no longer operate as they were first intended and are not suitable for residential use, Maher said.

Former factories or schools located in residential areas are properties for which conversion districts could be used, she said.

Modifications were made to allow light manufacturing facilities under the conversion district, which weren’t previously permitted, Maher said. Requirements that housing must be a part of conversion district developments were also lifted, she said.

“We also are adding more flexibility to the conversion district because hardly anyone has used this since the mid-90s since we’ve had it in the ordinance, and it’s probably because it’s a little too inflexible,” Maher said.

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