Carroll Digest

CARROLL COUNTY DIGEST

October 02, 2002

Operators of airport ask county to delay bids to run facility

The operators of Carroll County Regional Airport asked the county commissioners yesterday to delay a decision to put a contract to run the airport out to bid.

Rick and Bonnie Jones said they plan to submit their business plan detailing the airport's future in 30 days. In a closed meeting with the commissioners, they also asked the board to amend their lease contract, which runs through June 2004, to include management of the county's seven corporate hangars that soon will be ready for tenants. The couple lease the terminal and several smaller hangars on the property along Route 97 in Westminster.

The commissioners announced last week that they would seek applicants to operate the airport, and that they would encourage the Joneses to apply. The couple took over the job in May after the death of their longtime business partner, June Poage.

"We are hoping the commissioners will withdraw their request for proposal and give us 30 days to present our overall plan for the airport's future," said David Johnson, an attorney representing the Joneses. "We think we can convince them and that we can satisfy their questions."

The commissioners made no decision on the couple's requests.

Commissioners put off water, sewer plan decision

The county commissioners reviewed written comments from residents and officials from neighboring jurisdictions and the state for nearly three hours yesterday, but they still have not approved their proposed water and sewer master plan.

The board heard critiques from officials from the state, Baltimore City and Baltimore County that criticized proposed development and rezoning in the Liberty Reservoir watershed area.

In the past four years, members of the Board of Commissioners frequently have run afoul of Smart Growth, the governor's plan to control sprawl by directing residential construction to existing communities. They have rezoned farmland for housing, and they tried to rewrite zoning regulations that the state said would encourage residential development in agricultural areas.

State planners urged the county to pursue a variety of water sources and stated their reluctance to approve a plan that relies on as-yet unbuilt reservoirs - Gillis Falls and Union Mills - as sources of future water supply. The Army Corps of Engineers has opposed new reservoirs in Maryland for more than a decade.

"We are relying on future reservoirs based on our hydrogeology," said Jeanne Joiner, county director of planning.

If the commissioners approve the plan, they will forward it to the Maryland Department of the Environment, which has 90 days to review it. The department also can request a 90-day extension. It will be impossible for the current board, whose term expires in December, to complete the effort.

Firefighter guilty of arson gets chance at clean record

A former Manchester volunteer firefighter convicted of arson last year received a chance at a clean record yesterday in Carroll County Circuit Court.

Joshua Richard Spicer, 19, pleaded guilty to second-degree arson in the April 2001 fire at a vacant building in the 3200 block of York St. that was to be torn down. He has spent 84 days in jail, undergone psychological counseling and paid a $1,000 fine, and was to have been on home detention until March 20, said defense attorney Kathi Hill.

Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. offered Spicer probation before judgment, a finding that would leave him without a conviction if he completes five years of probation and 100 hours of community service.

"I do believe this is an aberration in your life," the judge said, but noted that firefighters could have been injured. "The building was scheduled to be razed, and you took it upon yourself to raze it yourself."

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