Common council approves rezoning land parcels

Renovation loan OK'd for 1860s stone building

January 11, 2000|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The Westminster Common Council approved last night the rezoning of several parcels of land and a loan to rehabilitate the old stone building at the site of Farmers Supply Co. downtown.

The changes affect several properties zoned in the mid-1980s as light industrial or conservation because they were near schools.

"As part of Westminster's comprehensive plan adopted in 1998, we plan to rezone for residential use, so it will be compatible with surrounding zoning," said Thomas B. Beyard, Westminster's director of planning and public works.

Beyard said the changes affect "about five to 10 properties, scattered around town" and owned variously by the city, Carroll County, banks and private individuals. As a practical matter, he said, the zoning change will make little difference.

Councilman Kevin E. Dayhoff argued successfully to keep the school lands zoned for conservation.

Council President Damian L. Halstad exercised his tie-breaking power for the first time and voted to approve zoning changes for five properties.

The council held a public hearing in October after the city's planning and zoning commis- sion reviewed and recommended the zoning changes.

Also last night, the council voted to approve a $50,000 loan for the 1860s-era stone building remaining at the old Farmers Supply site at Liberty and Green streets, a block off Main Street.

The money from the city's Rehabilitation Assistance Loan Fund is for exterior renovation, roof repair and stabilizing the stone facade, said Karen Blandford, the city's manager of housing and community development.

City officials were disappointed when Carroll County Bank & Trust Co.'s plan to build an office-retail complex at the site fell through last year after it was acquired by a North Carolina bank.

Through the ups and downs of the overall plans, the stone building has been considered for use as a restaurant or retail store.

Blandford said the Maryland Historical Trust visited the site yesterday, and approved it for tax credits. Bidding documents could be ready next month.

"We are doing no advertising," she told the council, "but there is a great deal of interest in the building from solid established local businesses."

The city created the revolving-loan fund about 15 years ago, from a Department of Housing and Urban Development block grant, to provide money with little or no interest for worthy projects that might fall short in financing, Beyard said. The borrowers repay the fund.

"The great thing is, the money comes back and you can use it again," said Beyard. The fund -- about $100,000 to $200,000 -- has been used for housing projects and the renovation of the old J. C. Penney building downtown.

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