Planning commission recommends no rezoning on Sharpsburg Pike
A proposal to build new residences off Sharpsburg Pike again failed at the planning stage.
But the final decision has not been made.
For the second time, the Washington County Planning Commission recommended against a zoning change that the developers are requesting so they can proceed with the project.
The rezoning application now goes to Washington County Commissionerswho has the last word.
These are property plans at 10319 Sharpsburg Pike, between Col. Henry K. Douglas Drive and Poffenberger Road south of Interstate 70. The 9.9-acre site is on the east side of Sharpsburg Pike, across of the Walmart Superstore complex.
The development would include two buildings totaling 105 apartments, as well as half a dozen townhouses and commercial spaces, according to plans submitted to the county.
To move forward with the project, the developer requested a zoning change. Technically, according to documents filed with the county, the developer is requesting a mixed-use commercial overlay above the current highway interchange zoning.
The planning commission in October recommended that the rezoning application be denied.
According to information prepared by county staff members, this denial centered on concerns that the new apartment development could lead to further overcrowding at South Hagerstown High School and E. Russell Hicks Middle School.
After that, the developers suggested that development be limited to people 55 and older to eliminate concerns about college students.
When county commissioners granted the request in December, they declined to act because the age limit had not been part of the planning commission’s deliberations. In place the commissioners referred it to the planning commission so that the group can influence the approach of people aged 55 and over to housing development.
The planning commission held another public information session in February.
In written comments, some residents objected to the move due to school concerns.
Some have also written that an apartment complex development could mean more traffic on residential streets behind the property, while traffic for commercial developments would likely use Sharpsburg Pike, not residential streets.
“Give us office buildings, retail, etc. rather than multi-family residences which will definitely reduce our quality of life and our property values – especially those of us whose properties border this area,” wrote local resident Dennis Weaver.
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At their meeting on Monday, members of the planning commission voted “no” to the recommendation.
Commission member David Kline said he believed the highway’s industrial zoning was appropriate.
“I don’t see a compelling reason to change that,” he said.
He also asked how an age limit would be enforced and said he was a “hard no” until it could be guaranteed.
Member Randy Wagner did not vote, as he will hear the case as County Commissioner. But he said age restrictions are often written into deeds or managed by a homeowners association or similar organization.
Member Jeff Semler also pointed to traffic issues raised by area residents.
In the end, planning commission members Kline, Semler, and BJ Goetz voted for the “no” recommendation. Wagner abstained, as did new member Teresa Shank, who had not been at previous meetings. Denny Reeder was absent.
The request now goes to the county commissioners, who will conduct their own public hearing and then vote on the matter. Hearing and voting dates have not been set.
Mike Lewis covers business, economics and other issues. Follow Mike on Twitter at MiLewis.