SYKESVILLE — Planning group vetoes future town houses
SYKESVILLE -- The Planning and Zoning Commission voted Wednesday night notto allow town houses or multifamily homes under its new Small Town Planning Guidelines.
The decision came after a discussion of Town Council members' objections to town houses. At a guidelines workshop last month, Councilman Walter White said he did not want to see any more town houses in Sykesville.
"I'm against town houses altogether. They are a poor tax base," he said.
The guidelines had previously allowed up to 20 percent of developments over 5 acres to consist of town houses.
At the August workshop, the commission also decided on a minimum lot size of 7,500 square feet.
On Wednesday, it reversed its position, deleting the minimum lot size and leaving it to developers to decide the types of homes to build and the size of lots to build them on.
"The houses that are built on small lots will be small, but it's just the perception [that it's not a town house]," said Helen Spinelli, the county planner for the town.
The guidelines are meant to supplement existing zoning in Sykesville but are written to give developers more flexibility in designing subdivisions.
The guidelines also require 40 percent of a development to be committed to open space, but leave open the question of responsibility for its maintenance. Councilman and Planning Commissioner Jonathan Herman suggested setting up homeowners' associations to maintain the open spaces.
The guidelines recommend that the town be offered the first choice of owning open space. If the council decides not to take ownership, residents may take over if they agree to maintain it.
Town Attorney Dennis Hoover said that if a homeowners' association takes ownership of an open space, the town would have to ensure that home buyers know the costs and responsibilities involved.
The council is expected to vote on the guidelines at tomorrow's 7 p.m. meeting.
Three elementaries could get longer break
Students at Mechanicsville Elementary may get an extra three days tacked onto their winter break, and Sandymount Elementary students may get the whole first week of November off.
Carroll County Schools are seeking a waiver from state Secretary of Education Nancy Grasmick to let students stay home for three days so the staff can move equipment and materials. State law requires 180 days of school.
Sandymount students have been attending classes in portable buildings in Westminster for more than a year while their school in Finksburg has been rebuilt. The students will move back in early November.
Schools countywide will be closed Nov. 3 for election day and Nov. 6 for teacher seminars. Superintendent R. Edward Shilling wants Dr. Grasmick to allow the students to stay home Nov. 2, 4 and 5 as well.
Meanwhile, renovation work is about to begin at Mechanicsville Elementary. Students there will move into the portable units vacated by the Sandymount children. Mechanicsville students pTC will start school in the portables when they return from winter break.
Mr. Shilling wants to allow the Mechanicsville students to stay home Dec. 23, and Jan. 4 and 5.
Board opposes service requirement
The Maryland State Board of Education has passed a community service requirement, but that doesn't mean local boards will stop opposing it.
Carroll County Board of Education members Wednesday endorsed a list of recommendations to be presented at a statewide convention for them and their counterparts from other counties.
One of those recommendations asks the state board to reconsider a rule requiring the freshman of 1993 to complete some kind of community service to get a high school diploma.
The rule, as passed, will require local districts to provide some kind of structure for students to complete community service.
Carroll Board President Cheryl McFalls said now that the rule is passed she would prefer to accept it and move on. Superintendent R. Edward Shilling has said local districts can find creative ways for students to fulfill the service, such as by participation in student government.
But other members persisted in their dissatisfaction.
All but one local school board in the state opposed the measure, said Carolyn Scott, vice president of the Carroll Board of Education. Yet the state board approved it anyway, she said.
"So I'm not against us going back and saying to them, 'We're still not happy with it,' " Mrs. Scott said.