Planned commercial zone inspires few objections

Westminster panel to vote on proposal next month

July 13, 1999|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,SUN STAFF

Few objections were heard last night at a public hearing before Westminster's Common Council on a proposed commercial zone for parts of the city.

The council is expected to vote on the new neighborhood commercial zone next month. It was holding its first public hearing on the proposal -- the outcome of a nearly two-year planning effort for the new district that has included heavy public input.

The new zone would be restricted by architectural and building-size limits and affect three properties that ring the center of the town, identified in the city's Master Plan.

But by far the most debated property, the 17-acre Koontz farm near Western Maryland College, drew the most comment last night.

Representatives of a developer and the Koontz family lobbied the council to increase a 25,000-square-foot limit on commercial space, which they claimed is prohibitive for many prospective businesses.

"This is about what's best for the whole city," said Clark R. Shaffer, an attorney for developer Larry Max. "You do need commercial development here."

Traffic on Route 140, Westminster's main artery, has led to fears that further commercial development -- no matter how big -- will add to the daily congestion. One resident, Debbie Finch, argued in favor of maintaining the building-size restrictions, saying, "This is not just about how this looks -- it's about how many cars come and go."

In addition, some residents of the Cliveden Reach neighborhood, located near the Koontz farm site, turned out to monitor the hearing. Many fear a commercial development in their community would heighten traffic problems.

In other business, the council approved design of an ornate red, white and blue sign for City Hall, now undergoing renovation, and agreed to purchase a new pickup truck for the city's wastewater division.

Pub Date: 7/13/99

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