Planner has praise for blueprint SOUTHWEST -- Mount Airy * Woodbine * Taylorsville * Winfield Mount Airy guide urges new zoning

December 24, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Teresa Bamberger, Mount Airy's planner, sees a lot of promise in the town's proposed master plan, a blueprint to guide growth and development over the next 10 years.

The plan aims to preserve Mount Airy's small-town character and adopt new zoning and land-use strategies.

Ms. Bamberger also views the 120-page document as a means of bringing more moderate-income and affordable housing in the community, which straddles the Frederick-Carroll border.

The proposal overhauls zoning categories, emphasizing a variety housing instead of large-lot developments.

Most of the town's housing stock is either large-lot, expensive homes or town houses.

Ms. Bamberger said the town has little moderate-income housing.

Located in the "golden triangle" of Baltimore, Washington and Frederick, Mount Airy faces continued growth, the proposed master plan says.

The town's population has doubled since 1970: The 1990 U.S. Census reported the population at 3,892.

The master plan, which will be discussed by the council and planning commission at a joint meeting Jan. 18, proposes integrating development regulations in the areas of water, sewer and storm water management to enhance the environment.

"Independent decisions aren't independent," Ms. Bamberger said. "Each decision affects everything else. We've suggested a way to coordinate it all. It's something this plan does that hasn't been done before here."

The recommendations include requiring buffers areas for development along streams, "more sensitive development" along steep slopes and preservation of woodlands.

"The chapter on natural resources is important because it could not only ensure proper functioning of water and sewer, but preservation of natural areas and natural features, such as slopes and woodlands," Ms. Bamberger said.

"In the long run it contributes a lot to the character of the town. It's something we're going to lose if we don't."

The revised master plan has been the result of months of work by Ms. Bamberger and members of the planning commission, who began revising the 1982 plan three years ago.

The process continues next month with the Town Council, and the document will be returned to the planning commission for more review and a series of public hearings.

Workshops held by the planning commission have already brought about some changes.

Initially, the plan proposed designating five areas of the town as neighborhood centers, offering a mix of residential, home-business and office uses.

However, residents of the Twin Ridge development objected to the designation of a 20-acre tract near them.

"It's very foreign to us," said Norman Hammond at a recent public workshop.

Mr. Hammond, who does not live in the Twin Ridge development, objected to the concept.

"It's not appropriate to us," he said. "It's a small town. It's not

Philadelphia. It's not even a Gaithersburg."

The planning commission withdrew the designation from Twin Ridge but remained in favor of the other neighbor center designations.

"It's a very positive step in bringing a community together," Frederick Goundry, the planning commission chairman, said at the most recent workshop.

"I think neighborhood centers are an important element of the plan," Ms. Bamberger said. "The plan is by no means focused or dependent on it. We hope it solves lot of things that need to be addressed. We need to try something new.

"We're not jumping off the bridge," she added. "What's new is that zoning will permit these uses. We hope to have qualities of older towns, but it's not going to be a mimic of older towns."

Only Main Street offers such diversity now in Mount Airy, she said. New developments don't have this variety because zoning doesn't allowit, she added.

The master plan also proposed to rezone a parcel of property behind the Mount Airy Shopping Centers from commercial to residential use.

Neighbors urged the commission to leave the land zoned as commercial.

"Those are the two items that have been addressed specifically," Ms. Bamberger said. "Otherwise, there have been some minor comments.

"We're ready to go forward with it."

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