Carroll Digest

CARROLL COUNTY DIGEST

February 11, 2004

New policy aims to keep roads clear of obstacles

Prompted by safety concerns, the Carroll County commissioners adopted a policy yesterday intended to rid county roads of abandoned cars and sports equipment and improve visibility for motorists.

Snow plows have encountered difficulties because of old cars, basketball hoops, and untrimmed trees and shrubs.

"We are putting our people in jeopardy by not removing these items," said Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge, who expressed concern that "if something happens in our right of way, it could be our fault."

The county Bureau of Roads will notify owners that they have 10 days to remove "an obstacle that creates a severe hazard," according to the policy. Items targeted by the policy include basketball hoops, skateboard ramps, untagged vehicles and trees that overhang the road or block motorists' line of sight.

Notification, giving owners 10 days to take action, will be by mail, phone, letter or by posting a green card on the door of the residence. Those who fail to dispose of the item must pay the county's costs of removing it.

Commission will set sidewalk proposal hearing

Carroll County commissioners said yesterday they would schedule a public hearing on a proposed county sidewalk ordinance that would make property owners responsible for maintenance.

"Basically, we don't have a sidewalk ordinance, and this one will say who is responsible for maintenance," said Doug Myers, county director of public works.

With an ordinance in place, the county could become eligible for state funds for sidewalk construction, he said.

Sykesville to put up basketball hoops in parks

The town that banned portable basketball hoops last year is making good on its promise to build courts in its parks.

Sykesville will install as many as four poles on existing blacktop areas in Burkett Park and near Caracara Court as soon as weather permits.

The town police force and maintenance crews will monitor the locations for about three months to determine how well they are used and what impact the courts have on the parks.

Concerned about the safety of children playing in the streets and damage to vehicles, the town enacted a ban Dec. 1, forcing the removal of nearly 100 hoops from the roadways. A committee was formed to identify alternative court sites.

Officials will wait for that review to decide if the courts will remain or if they will be moved to other locations.

"The committee is not rushing into this blindly and putting these things everywhere," said Mayor Jonathan S. Herman. "We are doing this in a test-like manner, trying to create active recreation that is not a detriment to homeowners."

At the Town Council meeting Monday, several residents said they were concerned the courts might become a nuisance in the neighborhoods surrounding the parks.

They asked officials to make public the results of the review before making any decisions on permanent locations.

Man charged in collision with police chief's SUV

A 49-year-old Westminster-area man has been charged with multiple traffic offenses after his sports utility vehicle sideswiped the unmarked SUV of Westminster's police chief last week in Taylorsville, state police in Westminster said yesterday.

Russell Lynn Martin Jr. was northbound in a 2003 GMC Yukon on Route 27 north of Liberty Road about 6 p.m. Friday when he crossed the center line and hit the 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Chief William Jeffrey Spaulding, 49, state police said.

The Yukon continued north until it hit a construction barrier, police said.

Martin, of the 2200 block of Hughes Shop Road, was released without bail on six citations, including driving under the influence of a prescription medicine, leaving the scene of an accident, negligent driving and failing to keep right of center, police said.

Neither Spaulding nor Martin required medical attention.

"Fortunately, it was a sideswipe collision," Spaulding said.

"We were evenly matched in size and weight. It was a glancing blow," he said.

The driver-side mirror of the city-owned vehicle was knocked off, there were some scratches and a dented fender, Spaulding said.

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