Commission, in reversal, OKs rezoning

September 09, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

The Carroll County commissioners reversed themselves yesterday and voted 2-1 to allow more houses to be built on a 137-acre parcel northwest of Mount Airy if schools can handle the additional students the development would bring.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell voted against the zoning change, which will allow the developer to build about two houses per acre instead of one per acre.

Last month, the commissioners refused to approve the change, saying increased density would strain public services in the area even though county and state agencies had found that schools, roads and public safety services could handle the increased population.

Mount Airy plans to annex the farmland owned by Leo and Elizabeth Kraft to have more control over the development and to provide the town with a larger tax base.

Magna Holdings Inc. of Baltimore has a contract to buy the land and plans to build about 200 single-family houses.

Magna Holdings President Joe Meyerhoff and his attorney, David K. Bowersox of Westminster, told the commissioners yesterday that allowing higher density on the parcel would be a way to control growth in the county because the houses would be near the town. Carroll's master plan calls for growth to be clustered around towns.

Mr. Dell said he still was concerned about the growth.

He and Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy are running for re-election. One of the issues voters are most concerned about is growth and how the county handles it.

Mr. Lippy said he was convinced it was better to have the growth near the town and hook the houses up to the town water and sewer system than to have houses with their own wells and septic systems, which often fail or become contaminated.

He added, "If I'm re-elected, I'll be looking over this with a fine-toothed comb."

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said she was concerned that there would not be enough water for the new houses or enough room in area schools for the students the development would bring.

She suggested adding a condition that no subdivision plats for the development could be recorded with county officials unless adequate schools were available. A plat must be recorded before any work can be done at the site.

Mr. Meyerhoff said the well at the site can pump 300,000 gallons per day. The development will use about 50,000 gallons.

Mount Airy planner Teresa Bamberger has said the development would bring much-needed improvements to the town -- Watersville Road would be extended, and the town would get a new well and land for ball fields.

Town and county planning officials recommended that the commissioners allow the zoning change. If the commissioners hadn't made the change, the town could have annexed the property, but it would have remained under the lower-density zoning for five years.

The Krafts have said they no longer can farm the land because of adjacent development.

Mr. Meyerhoff said it could be two years before houses are built

at the site.

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