Planning commission hears from Finksburg residents

Zoning near Liberty a concern in town

Westminster

April 06, 2001|By Jamie Manfuso | Jamie Manfuso,SUN STAFF

Members of a Finksburg group expressed concerns last night that Carroll's comprehensive rezoning process - and proposed changes to hundreds of acres in the Liberty Reservoir watershed - would thwart their attempts to develop a plan to guide growth in their community.

Finksburg residents and county planners are six months into a two-year process of developing a comprehensive plan for that community. It is the first such plan for Finksburg since 1981 and, by the time it's finished, the county's comprehensive rezoning process will be long completed.

"We're concerned that any rezonings being considered for the Finksburg community planning area be consistent" with the developing Finksburg plan, Donald E. Hoffman, president of the Finksburg Planning Area Council, told the planning commission last night.

Hoffman and several FPAC members expressed their concerns to the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission during a 90-minute public work session in Westminster. The meeting, the first in a series of work sessions to discuss specific land-use changes in the comprehensive rezoning process, focused on 460 acres in the Liberty Reservoir watershed. The owners are looking to rezone the land for industrial and commercial use.

Predominantly zoned for agricultural and residential use, most of the acreage - 15 parcels - lies in the Route 140 corridor east of Westminster to the Baltimore County line, with a concentration in and around Finksburg.

Planners have named concerns about possible pollution to the reservoir and other factors in their recommendations against rezoning all but 21.8 acres.

Steven Horn, county planning director, said his department considered postponing the rezoning process to give more time to Finksburg and Hampstead, which also is developing a comprehensive plan. But planners decided that would be impractical, he said.

Several property owners showed up to make their case.

The five-member panel did not make recommendations. It will deliver its final report to the county commissioners after it has discussed all of the 46 properties that are up for rezoning. The panel's final report could go to the commissioners, who will hold a public hearing on the rezonings before taking action, in six weeks.

The county commissioners decided to begin a comprehensive rezoning of the county in March last year to attract industrial and commercial growth. The county's business tax base of 12 percent is the lowest in the Baltimore region and third-lowest in the state.

But many fear that more industrial and commercial properties in the Liberty Reservoir watershed could pollute the reservoir, Baltimore City's chief source of water. Many of the 15 parcels contain streams and wetlands that feed the reservoir.

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