Zoning appeals board resumes debate on Oakmont Green Retail Center

June 02, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

The Oakmont Green Retail Center controversy raised its head again last night as the Hampstead Board of Planning and Zoning Appeals considered whether changes made to the town's zoning ordinance in December and January were valid.

Clark Shaffer, attorney for H. M. Mall Associates and Hampstead resident Marilyn Gill, suggested that "Ordinance No. 230 was enacted for the sole and exclusive purpose" of eliminating grounds for two appeals against the center that were then before the Carroll County Circuit Court.

Mr. Shaffer and Ms. Gill are both opponents of the retail center.

Mr. Shaffer said the ordinance removed some requirements of the town's zoning ordinance for shopping centers and was not related to the public welfare.

"I'm not suggesting any corruption," Mr. Shaffer said. He said he was merely suggesting that the council had acted to legislate the appeals out of existence.

Both the owners of the Oakmont Green center and their opponents had filed appeals of the board's decision to block the center's construction. The town's zoning ordinance was rewritten after that.

Under questioning, Town Manager John A. Riley said he did not know whose idea it had been to amend the ordinance. He said the matter had come up when the Oakmont Green case brought out inconsistencies in the town code and in more recent laws.

Mr. Shaffer asked Gary Bauer, the zoning board chairman, to refrain from comment in last night's discussion of the ordinance because he was a member of the Town Council when the ordinance was enacted.

However, the other board members said Mr. Bauer was absent when the ordinance was passed.

Mayor Clint Becker, members of the Town Council who were in office when the controversial ordinance was passed, and several other people were sworn in as potential witnesses.

But by press time last night, the board had not made its final decisions. The meeting was scheduled to continue at 7 p.m. Friday, if necessary.

Whatever the board's decision is, "I think we're a temporary stopping place on the way to other procedures" such as legal action, said Hampstead Town Attorney Richard Murray.

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