Council again approves vetoed zoning restrictions Warehouse limit sought until highway bypass built

October 15, 1998|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Despite a mayoral veto in August, the Hampstead Town Council reintroduced and approved a measure late Tuesday that places additional zoning restrictions on building warehouses within town limits.

Under the ordinance, proposals to build warehouses will be sent to the town's Board of Zoning Appeals, instead of to the planning commission. The appeals board has broader authority and provides a forum for the public on such issues, according to council members Wayne H. Thomas and Wendy L. Martin, who support the legislation.

The appeals board could allow warehouses as conditional uses. Previously, the planning commission voted on such proposals after notifying adjoining property owners. No public hearings were held.

Concerns about the change had less to do with conditional use than with traffic and the need for a planned bypass around the town.

"I don't want to see a couple of 100,000-square-foot warehouses out here and no bypass," Thomas said.

The change "gives citizens the right to come in" while making little difference to the developer "other than putting him up to the public scrutiny," he said.

Mayor Christopher M. Nevin on Aug. 19 vetoed the ordinance, which was drafted by the town's Planning and Zoning Commission, because he said such constraints would hamper economic development. An attempt by Thomas and Martin to override that veto last month failed by a 3-2 vote.

Councilman Stephen A. Holland supported the change Tuesday night. Only Councilman Haven N. Shoemaker Jr. voted no. Councilman Lawrence H. Hentz Jr. was out of town.

Holland said Hampstead "shouldn't put the cart before the horse" -- that the bypass should be built before any warehouses. Holland warned, however, that he is convinced "that it's a good way to go."

The three who voted for the ordinance noted the turnout earlier that evening for a public hearing on a proposed weight restriction for one road -- a hearing that quickly expanded into a wide-ranging complaint session about truck traffic and congestion throughout the town.

"We had a roomful of people here pitching a fit about traffic, pollution," Martin noted in supporting the warehouse restriction.

Nevin and Thomas bickered, with each saying the other had misstated his position on the ordinance.

But the mayor and council were united in urging the 30-some residents and businessmen to write -- often -- to state officials to support bypasses for Hampstead and Manchester to get truck traffic out of town. The heavily used Route 30 serves as Main Street in both towns.

Nevin said after the meeting that he had not decided whether to veto the ordinance again. In a letter to explain his August veto, Nevin said he agreed with objections raised by Carroll County economic development officials.

"Under the proposed ordinance," Nevin wrote in part, "even a smaller warehouse or distribution business would need a conditional use. I believe our town should not penalize a small business owner with a conditional use, that it has the infrastructure necessary to support these businesses, and in fact, should promote their development in Hampstead."

He noted Tuesday night that the town is hoping for a land donation from one potential developer for the long-awaited bypass, which is entering the land-acquisition phase, and urged flexibility toward businesses.

Thomas said, "Once the bypass is built, I don't have any problem with building out there."

He said the mayor and council agree "99.9 percent of the ordinance is good stuff" and "it shouldn't be shot down again."

In other business late Tuesday, the council reluctantly approved a sophisticated $25,000 test in the town's continuing quest for underground water. Drilling more test wells would be expensive and probably unproductive, Town Manager Neil Ridgely told them, but the experts believe the town should not give up on finding water in the elusive limestone formation.

Several council members unsuccessfully sought assurance that the new test would mean finding a well. Finally, all but Shoemaker agreed with the mayor, who said, "We've got to take one more shot before we abandon it."

Pub Date: 10/15/98

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