Mount Airy tries again for development waiver

August 31, 1994|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff Writer

Mount Airy officials met with Carroll commissioners yesterday in a last effort to convince them that development of the Kraft property is in the best interests of the town.

This month, the commissioners declined to grant a waiver that would have permitted building on the land at a greater density than the one unit per acre for which it is zoned. The commissioners agree to review that decision.

"We did our homework and, based on that, there's no merit in denying the waiver," Mount Airy Mayor Gerry Johnson told the commissioners yesterday.

Mr. Johnson had requested the meeting, attended by Mount Airy officials, county planning staff and others involved in the development of the property. Commissioners Donald Dell and Elmer Lippy were present.

Magna Holdings of Baltimore wants to build as many as 200 single-family houses on 137 acres of farmland northwest of Mount Airy. The land is owned by Leo and Elizabeth Kraft.

The town Planning and Zoning Commission recommended annexation of the land. The county planning office recommended the commissioners grant the zoning waiver.

The developers need a waiver of the zoning to build two or three houses per acre. Without the waiver, the land must remain under its current zoning for five years. Town officials have said refusal to grant the waiver raises the question of whether the developer will want to continue with the project.

At yesterday's meeting, Elizabeth Kraft said her family can no longer farm the land because of adjacent development.

"We're surrounded," Mrs. Kraft said. "This isn't a piece of property in the middle of nowhere."

Mr. Dell said increasing density in South Carroll is not consistent with the goals of the county's master plan. He said he's worried about school crowding and an outcry from residents.

Mount Airy officials said a review by county and state agencies found that schools, roads and public safety could handle the increased density.

Town officials cited benefits that would be paid for by Magna: development of a high-yield well on the property, the extension of Watersville Road and the dedication of 10 percent of the land for parks.

Mr. Dell suggested that the Kraft property be developed using transfer development rights -- in which a developer buys development rights from agricultural land and "moves" the rights to another property designated for residential development.

County planning director Ned Cueman said the transfer development rights mechanism is being studied by county planners, and isn't ready to be implemented.

The Mount Airy Town Council has scheduled a public hearing on the Kraft annexation proposal at 8 p.m. today at the town hall.

Mr. Johnson asked the commissioners to rule on the zoning waiver before then.

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