Zoning proposal concerns residents

Some fear increase in business will hurt city's historic district

May 24, 1999|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

The Taneytown City Council is considering how much of a stretch of East Baltimore Street should be changed from a residential zone to one that allows some restricted business.

One proposal is to let the new zone extend from Fairground Avenue to Ash Drive, on the south side of East Baltimore Street. The north side of that stretch is a less restricted general business zone.

But nearby residents say the proposed zone would endanger a block of the historic district and put more commercial development close to their homes.

"Why mess up the houses that look pretty on East Baltimore Street?" said Bill Isenberg, who lives on that street, just one lot from Ash Drive outside the proposed rezoning stretch. "East Baltimore Street is the showcase of Taneytown. We should keep its historic value."

Isenberg and Lauren Wieprecht, who lives next door to him outside the rezoning stretch, urged the council at its May 10 meeting to consider stopping the zone four houses short of Ash Drive, at Merwyn Street. Wieprecht is the wife of Councilman James A. Wieprecht, Isenberg's home is a large brick house with a wide front porch and a fenced yard and garden full of flowers. The Wieprechts live in a restored former farmhouse with a wraparound porch and mature trees shading the yard.

Both said they have put time and money into their homes and want to stay for a long time.

James Wieprecht, who has been active in historic-preservation issues along with fellow Councilman James L. McCarron, said the Merwyn Street border makes sense because that is the border of the city's historic district, as designated by the state.

McCarron also said he would prefer to see the four homes between Merwyn and Ash remain in the residential zone.

McCarron said such homes lure affluent buyers.

Zoning meeting

The council will attend the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting at 7 p.m. today to reconsider the boundaries and could vote on the issue at the beginning of a 7 p.m. orientation meeting for new members tomorrow,or at the next council meeting, June 14. All the meetings are at City Hall.

The Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended that the south side of East Baltimore Street between Fairground and Ash -- one-tenth of a mile -- be rezoned as restricted general business. The north side of that section. which has general business zoning, has a real estate office, insurance office and Bargain Barn, a store which often displays new and used merchandise on the front parking lot.

Businesses restricted

The Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation would make both sides of the street commercial, although one side would be restricted to businesses that are no bigger than 5,000 square feet and cause "no objectionable impact on nearby residential areas." No drive-through businesses or gas stations would be allowed.

Between Isenberg's home and Ash is a dental office that looks like a ranch house and has an exception to be in the residential zone.

Isenberg said he has no problem with the dentist's office but wonders whether a change in zoning would allow someone to tear down the houses beyond the dentist's office and put up concrete block buildings.

"What will happen on the other side of that dentist's office?" he asked.

Parallel zone

One reason the planning commission chose Ash Drive as the cutoff is that it would provide an even, parallel business zone on both sides of the street, though one side would have restrictions.

Mayor Henry C. Heine Jr. said the north side of East Baltimore Street is already open for development, without the restrictions that are proposed for Isenberg's side of the street.

But Isenberg and Lauren Wieprecht said it was still worth preserving the side that is zoned residential. It provides a nice entry into town to have even one side of the street lined with historic and well maintained homes, Lauren Wieprecht said.

"Why would people want to buy and live in historic houses if they're around all that commercial development?" she said.

Pub Date: 5/24/99

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