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Washington County to pay $11 a square foot for some of the land to widen Robinwood Drive

Five remaining property acquisitions remain to be made for the project

May 09, 2012|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com

The widening of Robinwood Drive could begin as soon as this summer, but the price tag for some of the necessary land isn’t sitting well with Terry Baker, president of the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

The commissioners voted 3-1 on Tuesday to pay $133,710 for a strip of land across the front of the College Plaza shopping center.

The price included easements, as well as the purchase of 8,058 square feet of land for $88,638, or $11 per square foot.

Baker cast the “no” vote.

“I can’t support $11 a square foot,” he said.

Commissioner John F. Barr was absent due to county business.

The price was based on an appraisal and months of negotiations with the property owner, Valley View Limited Partnership, Real Property Administrator Joe Kuhna told the commissioners.

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The purchase is the latest in a series of property acquisitions for the project, which will include widening Robinwood Drive to four lanes between Medical Campus Road and the Hagerstown Community College entrance. The county will add a median to that section and construct a roundabout at the college entrance.

Land acquisition makes up about $1 million of the project’s roughly $10.6 million budget, according to the county’s Capital Improvement Plan.

The county has five remaining property acquisitions to make for the project, and, if all goes as planned, could begin construction this summer, Kuhna said.

Baker asked what the property owner could do with the land if the county didn’t buy it, and Kuhna told him, “really, nothing,” due to zoning rules and the proximity to the road.

However, commercial property owners sometimes argue that road widening could harm their business due to increased traffic and medians that restrict turning, Kuhna said. In this case, the county agreed to eliminate part of the planned median to allow more movement at the shopping center entrance, he said.

Baker has argued previously that the county should eliminate the Robinwood Drive widening project, saying it will be unnecessary if the county is also extending Yale Drive to HCC, parallel to Robinwood Drive.

“I’m recommending that we stop everything that we’re doing in that area,” he said Tuesday. “That’s what I’d like to see happen — (stop the projects on) Yale Drive, Robinwood Drive, and let’s come up with a good plan that’s going to address that whole area over there.”

Other acquisitions for the project have included:

• 4,455 square feet from 11208 Robinwood Drive for $11,983 ($2.69/square foot)
• 3,417 square feet from 11202 Robinwood for $7,093 ($2.06/square foot)
• 1,762 square feet from 11142 Robinwood for $4,175 ($2.37/square foot)
• 1,580 square feet from 11106 Robinwood for $17,380 ($11/square foot)
• 2,245 square feet from 11310 Robinwood for $24,450 ($10/square foot)
• 4,111 square feet from 11302 Robinwood for $41,110 ($10/square foot)
• 2,984 square feet from 1314 Robinwood for $29,840 ($10/square foot)
• 5,473 square feet from 11067 Robinwood for $54,730 ($10/square foot)
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