Family wants rule change to build house Development at maximum density

November 17, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

A Westminster family who received more than the appraised price for a farm they sold to the county last year asked the Carroll Planning Commission yesterday to bend the rules to help them at their new farm.

Pauline Byers Shaffer and her family asked the commission to allow them to create a lot at their new farm on Bachmans Valley Road that the law does not allow.

"This is the common-sense thing to do," said David E. Byers III, Mrs. Shaffer's son.

"I agree with you completely that it's common sense," Planning Commission member Dennis P. Bowman said. "And I want to do it, to tell you the truth. But my concern is if we go around the law, what does that mean for the future?"

Commission Chairman Louis J. Pecoraro said the five-member board would consider the request and make a decision in a couple of weeks.

Planning staff members recommended against the change.

Mrs. Shaffer bought the 88-acre farm on Bachmans Valley Road late last year after selling her 104-acre farm on Pleasant Valley Road because some of the land was needed for the expansion of the Carroll County Regional Airport.

The county paid Mrs. Shaffer $850,000 for the farm, which was $165,000 more than the appraised price. The Federal Aviation Administration added $50,000 for moving costs.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell helped negotiate the sale. He has known Mrs. Shaffer since they were teen-agers.

He and Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy voted for the purchase; Commissioner Julia W. Gouge voted against, saying the price could set a precedent for future land acquisitions.

In addition to the Bachmans Valley Road farm, Mrs. Shaffer bought an adjacent four-acre lot on the road front that is part of a development called Charles Estates. She is building a house there for her husband and herself.

Her daughter, Helen Hosfeld, wants to build a house behind her mother's new one on the four-acre lot. But Charles Estates has been developed to its maximum density, which means no more lots are allowed, a staff report says.

The family proposed transferring one of the lot rights from the farm to the Charles Estates lot. The county zoning ordinance does not allow such transfers.

"I don't see any way around the regulations," commission member Robert H. Lennon said.

"What difference does it make if you own both" properties, Mr. Byers asked. "We're not gaining anything extra."

He argued that building his sister's house near his mother's house would preserve more land for farming.

"I'm a farmer at heart, and I'm going to farm," said Mr. Byers, who also teaches physical education and coaches varsity basketball at Westminster High School.

He said he plans to build a house for his family farther back on the new farm.

Mr. Dell, a voting member of the Planning Commission, said it makes sense for the family to cluster the two homes. The law in this case is not practical, he said.

"If we could legally do it, I would think an exception should be made," he said.

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