Planning committee vetoes commercial use of residences

December 01, 1993|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

In an attempt to maintain the residential character of South Main Street, the Mount Airy Planning and Zoning Commission rejected a proposal Monday night to allow commercial uses in residential structures.

The Town Council had asked the commission to consider introducing the new zoning category as part of the Mount Airy Master Plan.

It would have required preservation of the residential character of a building and would have imposed design restrictions on new commercial uses in residential areas.

The request sparked a heated discussion among commission members about the character of Main Street.

"Permitting any commercial use in a residential property flies in the face of a residential zone," said Commission Chairman Frederick W. Goundry.

Commission member Clark M. Wagner said that allowing commercial use in a residential structure has worked well elsewhere in the state, such as Ellicott City.

Mr. Wagner, who supported the council's proposal, said, "What I'm talking about doesn't go against the master plan. It falls in line with the master plan."

Commission members agreed that the idea is worth studying, but said it could not be resolved in time for inclusion in the master plan, which could go before the Town Council for final approval in January.

"I'm not comfortable with making a snap decision on this," said commission Vice Chairman Keith R. Gehle of the council's proposal.

"I think there's value in it, but the master plan identifies what Main Street is, and we should explore it and do a good job TC instead of a quick job," Mr. Gehle said.

The residential-commercial zone was suggested by Virginia Humphries, a South Main Street property owner who wanted to use a residential-zoned building for a day care center.

The commissioners also recommended action on two other master plan zoning changes to the Town Council.

They recommended rejection of a request by Russell F. Dennis Jr. to rezone his 7-acre property on Village Oaks Drive from industrial to high-density residential. Instead, the commission recommended a change to medium-density residential zoning for the land.

The commission also recommended high-density zoning for 20 acres of a 218-acre property east of Route 27 and south of Watersville Road, and recommended low-density residential zoning on the remaining land.

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