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Residents pack Boonsboro Town Council meeting to speak against assisted-living house expansion

Some say they do not want a large construction project next to their homes

April 05, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • A standing-room-only crowd showed up at the Boonsboro Town Council meeting Monday night to hear some residents speak out against a proposed expansion of SOMA Manor House.
Herald-Mail file photo

BOONSBORO — A standing-room-only crowd showed up at the Boonsboro Town Council meeting Monday night to hear some residents speak out against a proposed expansion of an assisted-living house in the town.

The expansion of the SOMA Manor House at 7701 Old National Pike is part of an annexation of 15 acres that the six-member council is considering.

If Boonsboro annexes the land at its northern border, the Washington County Board of Commissioners agreed earlier that the town could immediately change the zoning to “town residential.”

Without the commissioners’ “express approval,” the town would have had to wait five years before making significant changes to the parcel’s zoning. The land is in the county’s agricultural zoning district.

Assisted-living facilities are allowed as a special exception in both the county’s agricultural district and the town’s residential district, but higher residential development density is allowed within the town’s residential district, county Planning Director Stephen T. Goodrich has said.

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SOMA Manor House offers assisted-living services to a small group of elderly residents, according to its website at www.somamanorhouse.com.

Some town residents told the council they do not want a large construction project next to their homes and don’t want their children to be around building activity.

“I love this town. I love the openness. I really don’t want a commercial project in my backyard,” said Paul Loeber of 313 Tiger Way.

Jean Reese of 703 N. Main St., whose property backs up to the Weis Market, said she has been having problems with high grass not being mowed around her house.

“The same thing’s going to happen. I’m fed up,” Reese said.

“It’s a lot of secret stuff going on in this town, and you all better wise up,” Reese said.

Delacruz, of 314 Tiger Way said he feared the expansion of SOMA Manor House would cause “headaches” for the community.

“I just think this is a no-brainer, guys,” said Delacruz, looking at council members.

Some residents described a party that went into the late hours on St. Patrick’s Day at the assisted-living home, and residents questioned what is being offered there.

About 35 people packed the council chambers.

Mayor Charles F. “Skip” Kauffman Jr. said there has been no secret meetings in town over the project.

“We have not made any kind of decision,” Kauffman said.

Dickson Tabi, one of the owners of SOMA Manor House, said one benefit of the home is that local residents can have their parents stay in a nearby facility. 

“We’re not trying to disrupt anything,” Tabi said.

Councilman Kevin Chambers asked Town Planner Megan Clark what options the home would have if the annexation were not approved.

Clark said if SOMA Manor House is able to get more cottages on its septic system while it is in the county, it could expand.

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