Bail review scheduled for homicide suspectJames Howard...


January 21, 1993

Bail review scheduled for homicide suspect

James Howard VanMetre, extradited from Pennsylvania yesterday on a Dec. 1991 murder indictment, is expected to have a bail review hearing today in Carroll Circuit Court.

VanMetre, 35, was charged with the murder of Holly Ann Blake, a 28-year-old mother of two who disappeared from her Adams County, Pa., home on Sept. 26, 1991. Her charred remains were found on a Harney farm in October 1991.

VanMetre was held last night at the Carroll County Detention Center without bond pending today's bail review hearing. He had waived his right to an extradition hearing on Friday, which paved the way for yesterday's transfer to Carroll County.

Last July, an Adams County jury convicted VanMetre of raping and kidnapping a Pennsylvania woman. He was being held at the State Correctional Institute at Camp Hill near Harrisburg awaiting sentencing in that case. He has filed several post-verdict motions seeking an overturn of his conviction.

Home industries zoning referred to committee

The Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission referred to a technical committee a proposed zoning amendment yesterday that would allow cottage industries in accessory buildings.

Westminster Attorney Thomas F. Stansfield asked the board to review the ordinance and draft language to allow cottage industries in accessory buildings as well as dwellings.

The cottage industries ordinance allows assembly or manual work in a family home. The zoning doesn't address accessory buildings, said Zoning Administrator Solveig Smith.

Mr. Stansfield's client, Randall L. Bowers of Taneytown, wants to establish a cabinet shop at his home in an agricultural district.

"We've had no applications for cottage industries at this point," Ms. Smith said.

Custom cabinet shops have been allowed as home occupations in homes where there are no outside employees, she said.

Commission rejects mining setback measure

The Carroll Planning and Zoning Commission rejected yesterday a proposed amendment to the county's mineral resources ordinance that would extend the boundary limits surrounding quarrying operations.

The proposal would have required mining operations to be 700 feet from the property lines of homes in agriculture zones, as they are in residential zones. The 700-foot setback also applies to hospitals, sewage pumping stations and reservoirs.

In addition, the proposal would have increased mining operations setbacks from 200 feet to 700 feet away from property lines.

The county staff recommended reaffirmation of the ordinance adopted by the county commissioners last year. The changes, the staff said, would result in "automatic appeals" to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

A Zoning Ordinance Oversight Committee also recommended reaffirming the existing ordinance.

County officials discuss school board audit

Carroll's budget director and auditor have begun discussing what the commissioners should require in a performance audit of county schools, the budget director said yesterday.

Budget Director Steven D. Powell said he and Internal Auditor Tim Hartman have met once to discuss the audit, which the Board of Education has agreed to allow the county to conduct.

The commissioners hope the audit will point to ways to save the county money.

Yesterday, they looked at a 1989 memorandum listing six bids the county received when a similar audit was planned. The commissioners did not conduct the audit then because an attorney general's opinion said it would be improper.

The Board of Education has estimated that an audit would cost about $250,000.

The bids obtained in 1989 ranged from $27,500 to $65,455. Mr. Powell emphasized that county officials never examined the bids and do not know if they address what the county would like addressed in this audit.

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