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Article Archive >> In Your County

Board of County Commissioners' Actions:Commissioners dedicate airport fire station

CAPTION: Federal, State and County Officials cut the ribbon opening the Hagerstown Regional Airport Fire Station



Board of County Commissioners' Actions
Commissioners dedicate airport fire station, Hear public on forest conservation, Adopt land ordinances, Visit Keedysville

As part of its regular meeting on August 24th, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners took part in ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the new $2.4 million Firefighting facility at Hagerstown Regional Airport.
Maryland Secretary of Transportation Beverly Swaim-Staley lauded efforts of the County and Airport in building the station, which will house airport crash and fire suppression vehicles properly. Construction of the facility, funded through 95% federal, 2.5% state and 2.5% County funds began in September 2009 and was completed one month ahead of schedule.
Commissioners' President John Barr said the fire station, housing company 35, will serve to provide increased protection for the safety of passengers and airfield businesses alike.
Following Citizen input regarding Forest Conservation regulations, the Commissioners decided to appoint a study group to review the County's Ordinance and make recommendations on changes necessary to comply with state mandates.
Four citizens testified at the Public Hearing on changes to the County's Forest Conservation Ordinance. Jim Laird and Sally Hatch, of Citizens for the Protection of Washington County asked that the County not allow exemptions in the Ordinance, designed to protect forested lands.
Jason Divelbiss, a local attorney, testified against commercial on-site planting.
Washington County Soil Conservation District Manager Elmer Weibley proposed the focus group, which would work with the State Department of Natural Resources, the development community and citizens and report to the Board within 6 months.
Of concern was a state requirement that the amount developers would have to pay in lieu of planting replacement trees in areas disturbed by construction would increase to 30 cents per square foot and 36 cents in some cases, from its current level of 10 cents.
The state has said it could take over the County program if its requirements are not met.
Commissioners repealed, then adopted the County Stormwater Management, Grading, Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance, but eliminated a controversial section dealing with driveway slopes.
The State of Maryland has adopted new regulations with respect to stormwater management control for development and redevelopment projects. The Division of Public Works and the Soil Conservation District drafted a new Ordinance to incorporate changes proposed by various stakeholders over the past year. The proposed Ordinance covers stormwater management, grading activities and revises the existing Sediment and Erosion Control Ordinance.
Removed was a section that would have required limits on slopes of driveways to accommodate fire trucks and for erosion control.
In other actions, an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance school mitigation proposal was approved for Rye Field Estates, a 17-unit single-family house subdivision off Stottlemeyer Road near U.S. 40. New enrollment figures for affected schools were supplied by Washington County Public Schools that affected the amount the developer would have to pay for mitigation.
Developer Antietam Pines, III, LLC representative Jason Divelbiss told the Board that figures had been calculated at $2.802.00 per lot for that fee. Following discussion and recalculations, the fee was set at $4,000 per lot for a total of $68,000.00 with the developer submitting the first phase of its plan within 6 months.
Board heard an update on the construction project at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and approved a request for modification of the funding allotted to the project by the County.
Museum representatives requested and were granted a loan of $300,000 last year, under terms for payoff within 5 years. Museum Director Rebecca Massie Lane and Board of Trustees representatives Thomas Newcomer and Brad Pingray gave details of the project, now under construction, which will enclose the museum courtyard, and asked that $150,000 of the original loan be forgiven.
Commissioners agreed to allow $100,000 of the loan as a grant, with the remaining $200,000 be repaid under the current stipulations, with the grant to be taken from the Hotel-Motel tax. Commissioners' President John Barr abstained from the vote for business reasons.
County Administrator Greg Murray reported that completion of a Commissioners Goal, improved telecommunications access of the Commissioners' meetings, has been accomplished through placement of meetings in Antietam Cable Television's "Video on Demand (VOD)" feature. Murray lauded ACTV President Brian Lynch and his staff, along with county staff for working together to bring the goal to fruition. Murray told the Board that division and department heads will make a progress report on goals and objectives of the county at next week's meeting.
The Board came to consensus on a letter of interest in partnering in a Regional Waste Energy Fuel Source operation to be conducted by Frederick County. Solid waste would be transported from the County 40-west landfill to the energy site, reducing the amount of waste stream and increasing landfill life. The County could receive recycling credits for its participation in the plan, which could also involve Harford and Carroll Counties and begin within 5 years.
The Commissioners visited the Town of Keedysville during the evening, as part of the continuing night meeting plan, designed to offer town residents greater access to County government.
Mayor Matt Hull thanked the Board for its visit and the continuing support the town receives in Waster Quality and Law Enforcement, announced the annual Ruritan Festival Saturday, August 28th from 11:00am-7:00pm in the town park, and introduced Rick Bishop as the new Town Administrator.
Board and Commission Appointments saw Samuel Key appointed to the Local Management Board for a three-year term; Charles Shindle, Mitch Gladhill and Tim Fields were reappointed to the Electrical Board for three-year terms.

In Staff Reports, Division of Environmental Management Deputy Director for Engineering Mark Bradshaw brought two budget transfer requests to the Board.
Approved was a $390,600 transfer to the Water Source line item for the Mount Aetna Plant due to efficiency gained by combining two line items in the current budget.
Also approved, $90,200 from the Sewer Contingency fund to the line item for the Water Quality Infiltration and Inflow project made necessary by immediate repair of a sewer line. That project was to have been funded by a state grant.
Sheriff Doug Mullendore reported that the Sheriff's Department Prescription Drug Turn-In Program will hold an event at Himes Store in Brownsville from 9am-1pm on Saturday August 28th, and that the Department will present the Identity Theft program on October 23rd at Valley Mall in Hagerstown.
Division of Emergency Services Director Kevin Lewis introduced Eric Yates, newly hired as an Advanced Life Support Paramedic, now in service at the Boonsboro Fire Company's Rohrersville Station in the southern part of the county.
In Citizen's Participation, Henrietta Livelsberger thanked the County for that Advanced Life Support technician being placed at Rohrersville.
Commissioners approved purchase of a one-acre plot for location of the final tower in the Public Safety Communications System, for $80,000. The site is located off Brown Road near Sandy Hook. Real Property Administrator Joe Kuhna told the Board that the sum was the agreed-upon price with the landowner. Public Works Director Joe Kroboth stated that the site was the least objectionable to stakeholders at the most recent public meeting, and that complaints received about that tower site were 90% less than those received on the original proposed site. Communications Maintenance Manager Pete Loewenheim, project manager for the new system said that County ownership of the site is key to the FCC licensing process for the tower. The tower, necessary for public safety communications in the area, will be 190 feet tall.
Commissioners discussed initiatives put forth by the Lobbying Coalition supported by County government. The coalition includes the City of Hagerstown and local business organizations, and funds a lobbyist in Annapolis to attract state funds to Washington County.
Among initiatives that would be supported by the County: highway user fund availability, the Eastern Boulevard corridor, continued state funding of teacher pensions, University of Maryland-Hagerstown funding initiatives, local control over Gaming funds, assistance for the Aviation Maintenance Instruction Program at the airport, development of a technology park in the Robinwood area, reuse of Hospital property, and increased State Highway Administration involvement with the U.S. 340-Keep Tryst Road intersection and traffic control problems at Sandy Hook.

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