HAMPSTEAD — Owners of a North Main Street storefront succeeded in getting their building rezoned to local business last night after a 30-minute closed meeting by the Town Council.
The request was similar to a controversial one from last summer by William Matthews, when the council rejected Matthews' request to rezone his Main Street property to local business. Matthews is disputing that decision in court.
Like Matthews, Jerry and E. Virginia Wilhelm claimed the 1986 change of their property from general business to residential zoning wasa mistake.
"It has always been a commercial building since the mid-'40s," Jerry Wilhelm said at the public hearing last night. "It's really not suitable for any other use."
Former Mayor Oden Kemp, nowa member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, recommended grantingthe rezoning.
"That building has always been a business," Kemp said.
He was the only person to testify at the public hearing. No one objected.
Also like Matthews, the Wilhelms said they were never notified of the change in 1986, and didn't realize it until they tried to sell the building in February of 1990.
At the time, their property at 1341 N. Main St. was a flower shop. In the past, it has beena bowling alley and movie theater.
The building, which sits across the street from the fire hall, is now vacant. The Wilhelms said they haven't been able to sell it while it has had the residential zoning.
The Wilhelms both grew up in Hampstead and now are divorced andliving in Hanover, Pa.
The council held a public hearing last night but made its 3-2 decision after 30 minutes behind closed doors.
Voting for the change were Lewis O. Keyser, Jacquelyn J. Hyatt and William S. Peason. Voting no were Gary W. Bauer and Arthur H. Moler.
As a formality, the council will have to vote at its next meeting in February, at which time City Attorney Richard C. Murray can draw upa legal, written resolution granting the rezoning.
Last summer, Moler and Bauer adamantly opposed granting Matthews' request for rezoning the building that had been the town's library until two years ago.
Before that, the building had housed various businesses.
Moler declined comment last night on the advice of Murray, but Bauer saidhe voted against the Wilhelm request for the same reason he voted against Matthews' request.
He said both parties can always ask for aconditional usage from the Board of Zoning Appeals to put businessesin those buildings.
"But I don't believe in spot zoning," Bauer said, referring to changing one property's zoning from that of the rest of the block.
Last summer, Moler and Bauer said the committee that recommended the change in zoning from business to residential in 1986 did so because the majority of the block was residential.