County Comment: Urban growth area joint public hearings scheduled

County Comment
Urban growth area joint public hearings scheduled
By Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

The Washington County Board of County Commissioners and the Planning Commission will hold joint public hearings to receive public comment on the proposed Comprehensive Rezoning in the Urban Growth Area and adjustments to the Urban Growth Area Boundary on Tuesday, October 12th and Thursday, October 14th, between 7pm and 10pm in Kepler Theater on the campus of Hagerstown Community College.
In the October 12th hearing there will be a summary presentation of the Urban Growth Area zoning text and map amendments by the Washington County Planning staff. Following questions and answers from the County Commissioners and the Planning Commission, the remainder of the hearing on Tuesday, October 12th will be devoted to receiving public comment on the proposal.
The hearing on Thursday, October 14th will only be held if all public comment cannot be heard on Tuesday, October 12th.
The hearings are for the purpose of presenting the proposed Zoning Ordinance text and map amendments and taking public input. The proposed amendments are designed and intended to implement Comprehensive Plan recommendations in the Urban Growth Area, which is a designated area of Washington County surrounding Hagerstown, Williamsport and Funkstown.
The proposed amendments include a variety of changes to the text of zoning districts in the Urban Growth Area. These proposed changes include additions or deletions of some permitted and special exception uses in some districts, changes in some minimum lot size requirements in some districts, improved design guidelines for landscaping, lighting, buffering, sidewalks and recreation areas in many districts, improved procedures and increased information requirements in some districts, deletion of some districts that are no longer effective and the addition of several new zoning categories. The proposed amendments also include changes to the zoning district on some, but not all, individual properties in the Urban Growth Area. The amendments affect only properties in the County and not within any municipal boundaries. The proposal also includes recommendations for several small adjustments to the Urban Growth Area Boundary as designated in the adopted 2002 Comprehensive Plan.
Affected property owners will receive notices by mail advising them of the proposed change that may affect their property and their opportunities to comment. Many property owners in the Urban Growth Area will not experience a zoning change and those owners will not receive notices by mail but are still welcome to comment during the hearing(s) or by mail. Property owners who wish to request a different zoning district for their parcel(s) than the district proposed must make the request either a) in person during the hearings, b) in writing to the Washington County Planning Commission, 80 West Baltimore Street, Hagerstown, MD 21740 or c) by electronic mail to askplanning@washco-md.net. The request must contain the owner's name and property identification such as a street address or tax map/block/parcel number identifier. All other comments may be made in the same manner. All written requests and comments must be received in the Planning Commission offices no later than Friday, October 22, 2010 at 4:30pm.
The proposed zoning text and map amendments and the proposed adjustments to the Urban Growth Area Boundary are available for review from Washington County's web site, www.washco-md.net. Interested parties should select Proposed Urban Growth Area Zoning Amendments from the list titled "Latest County News" and follow the appropriate links. The proposed text and map amendments and Urban Growth Area Boundary changes are also available for review at the Washington County Free Library located at 100 South Potomac Street in Hagerstown and in the Planning Commission offices located in the Washington County Administrative Annex building at 80 West Baltimore Street, in Hagerstown between 8am and 4pm.
All interested parties that plan to comment during the hearing are encouraged to notify the Planning Department prior to the start of the hearings by sending your name and address in an e/mail to askplanning@washco-md.net. Parties interested in speaking may also sign up at the site prior to the start of the hearing. All parties that wish to comment will be heard.