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 Town gives initial OK for new development

Vic Bradshaw
Frederick News-Post

Town leaders have approved a plan that should bring new residents, and those residents could have a few new places to shop.

Wednesday night, Woodsboro's planning and zoning commission gave conditional approval to Ausherman Homes' site plan for 37 single-family homes on the former site of Woodsboro Livestock. The decision allows Ausherman to focus on getting required county, state and federal permits to build the subdivision, which will be called Woodbury.

Later in the meeting, Jason Hess of BET Investments presented preliminary drawings of a small retail center the company may build and manage at the south end of town between the Park-n-Ride lot and the cemetery. He got general approval for the center from the commission.

The shopping center, however, is a concept with-out an application, much less approval. The housing development, which would increase Woodsboro's housing base by about 12 percent, has its go-ahead from the town.

Ausherman representatives spent about an hour going over changes made to plans based on questions raised by commission members. The developers either had made the changes or satisfactorily explained why an alteration couldn't be accommodated.

The planning panel paid particular attention to the stormwater management pond located near the area for a small neighborhood park. "I don't want some little kiddie down there getting drowned," said Hartwood Cornell, the commission's chairman.

Jim MacGillivray, vice president of Ausherman, said the company would fence the area. He said they typically erect four-foot-high fences, which is what Frederick County requires around swimming pools, and that standard satisfied the commission.

After the developer answered all questions and agreed to a few more conditions, the commissioners voted 3-0 to approve the subdivision pending minor revisions in the plans.

Terre Rhoderick, project manager for Ausherman, said Thursday that grading could begin as early as June if no problems arise in the permitting process.

Unlike Ausherman, BET Investments' plan is in its beginning stages. Mr. Hess, vice president and general council for the Pennsylvania company, said discussions are under way with "several" grocery chains about filling the small center.

Preliminary plans show a grocery store covering 28,000 square feet, 8,000 square feet for a drug store with a drive through window, and 8,000 square feet for other retailers. Two outer parcels, ideal for restaurants or banks, also were pictured on the 14.57 acres targeted for development. The remaining 5.9 acres would remain undeveloped wetlands or be used for stormwater management or open space.

Questions were raised about whether sit-down restaurants would be allowed at the site. Mr. Hess said the annexation agreement excludes all restaurants, but planning commission members recall only wanting to prevent fast-food restaurants from going on the property.

Mr. Hess said that before he continued working on the project, he wanted to see if the planning commission might be receptive to such a center.

"When we annexed this property, as I remember it, this is what we envisioned," Mr. Cornell said. "So I don't know how we could say no to it."

In other planning business, the panel also unanimously approved a site plan for American Eagle Automotive, a vehicle repair center located at the south end of Main Street.

Frank and Mary Pescatore, who own the business, said they need to store some cars outside while waiting for parts. They agreed to park no more than 30 cars in front of the business and in an area behind the business that will be fenced.

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