Havre de Grace proceeds with Route 40 annexation, minus one property

Havre de Grace has restarted, after nearly a year’s pause, the process of annexing properties along Route 40 west of the city — it will happen, however, without one of the three lots originally planned for annexation.

The City Council adopted Resolution 2017-02 during its meeting Monday. The resolution is an annexation plan to bring two neighboring lots at 1828 and 1830 Pulaski Highway and a portion of the right of way along the nearby Amtrak rail line, which will enable the annexation, into the city.

The annexation will bring the building that houses the Cork & Barrel liquor store and Freedom Federal Credit Union, but not the building that housed the former Bruster’s ice cream store, into the city.

The resolution, which the council voted for unanimously, had been amended from the version the council adopted Feb. 21, 2017 on the city’s plan to annex three lots — 1828, 1830 and 1834 Pulaski Highway, plus the Amtrak land, which ensures the annexed properties are contiguous with the city.

The property at 1834 Pulaski is occupied by a commercial building that once housed Bruster's Real Ice Cream and other establishments. The property owner, Chip Paradis, expressed concerns about adding city property taxes to his existing tax bill during a March 2017 public hearing on the charter annexation resolution.

Paradis later decided he did not want to be annexed, Steve Gamatoria, chief of staff in the office of the mayor, said Wednesday. Gamatoria was the City Council president at the time of the public hearing.

City officials have spent the intervening months reworking their annexation plan.

“The next step had to be . . . to write [Paradis] out of the annexation and then bring a new plan,” Gamatoria said.

The total area slated for annexation decreased from 11.1688 acres to 9.3127 acres, according to the amended Resolution 2017-02. City staff also had to resurvey the annexation area and notify the other two lot owners of the change in plans, Gamatoria said.

Madori Properties LLC, which owns 1830 Pulaski, first approached the city about being annexed, according to Gamatoria. The commercial property is home to businesses such as The Cork & Barrel liquor store and a Freedom Federal Credit Union branch. It gets sewer service from the city and water from Harford County, according to the resolution.

Dorothy G. Lewis owns the property on the immediate right of the Madori lot, 1828 Pulaski, according to state property records. That land is undeveloped and does not have sewer or water service, according to the resolution.

The Paradis property, 1834 Pulaski, is on the left-hand side of the Madori lot, and the railroad line is at the rear of all three. Gamatoria said the land adjoining 1830 Pulaski must be annexed to ensure it is contiguous with the city boundary.

The remaining property owners are still on board with the annexation, according to Gamatoria.

Councilman Michael Hitchings read the amendments to Resolution 2017-02 into the record Monday evening. It has been amended in multiple spots in accordance with the departure of the Paradis property.

The amendments reflect “a number of changes that have happened, as a lot of coordination has gone on back and forth with the property owners potentially affected by this,” Hitchings said.

“This amendment clearly denotes those that are, and those that are not included,” he added.

The next annexation resolution, the “first charter amendment of 2018,” will be introduced at the Feb. 20 council meeting, Gamatoria said. That day is a Tuesday, since the federal President’s Day holiday falls on Monday, Feb. 19.

That introduction will be followed by a public hearing at a later date, according to Gamatoria.

He said annexations are considered a charter change, hence the need for a charter resolution.

“We’re actually changing our charter because we’re changing our boundaries,” Gamatoria said.

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