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Town Council set to settle two rezoning cases

Vic Bradshaw
Frederick News Post

(11/18/2003) Another chapter in the town's current growth saga should come to an end Thursday night.

Emmitsburg's board of commissioners will hold public hearings on two rezoning cases that have been before the town since the summer. Bollinger Properties LLC wants to rezone 8.9 acres off Irishtown Road to construct 48 senior housing units, while RJD Development Corp. is requesting a rezoning to enable it to build townhouses on 9.9 acres in the Brookfield subdivision.

The Bollinger Properties hearing begins at 7:30 p.m. in the conference room of the Sleep Inn on Silo Hill Parkway, The RJD Development hearing will be held when the board concludes the first hearing, likely between 8:30 and 9 p.m.

Decisions on both requests should be made at the meeting. The necessary ordinances would be voted on at a future board meeting.

Growth has been a major concern in the town since May, when an annexation referendum was defeated by a 3-to-1 margin. The rezoning requests are the first since then that would add housing in the town.

Bollinger Properties also has requested the annexation of 20.3 acres off Irishtown Road so a subdivision with 50 upscale homes can be built. The commissioners will not consider that request until January.

As for the rezonings, Frederick County Planner Jim Gugel and Town Planner Michael Lucas recommend conditional passage of both requests, contending that the neighborhood's character has changed enough to warrant rezoning. The town's planning and zoning commission, however, split its choice, unanimously advising the passage of Bollinger Properties' senior-housing request and the denial of RJD Development's move to increase density in Brookfield.

RJD Development representatives told the planning panel that it hoped to build as many as 52 townhouses on the land it wanted rezoned to high-density residential. About 2.8 acres currently is zoned for general-business use, and the remaining 7.1 acres has low-density residential zoning.

Krista McGowan, the attorney representing RJD Development, said that as of Monday afternoon, no significant changes had been made to the development plan since it was presented to the planning commission.

The senior-housing element of the Bollinger Properties' request to rezone land from low-density to high-density residential seemed to factor into the planning panel's decision to recommend its approval. Because the four-building complex would be limited to people age 55 and older, it should not place any burden on local schools and likely would add fewer cars to town streets than other housing types.

The complex also would be close enough to the town square to allow most residents to walk into the heart of Emmitsburg.

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