Carroll Digest

CARROLL COUNTY DIGEST

February 25, 2004

Public hearing set today on proposed zoning rule changes

A public hearing on proposed changes to Carroll County's conditional zoning uses is scheduled for 7 p.m. today in Room 003 of the County Office Building.

Last year, the county commissioners imposed a nine-month freeze on proposed commercial development on industrial land. The object of the freeze, which expires March 10, was to allow a task force to study ways to eliminate the conditional zoning that has allowed strip malls to occupy land suited for industrial development, which brings in more tax revenue.

The task force recommended that the county pare a list that allows as many as 70 conditional commercial uses on industrial land to eight. The group also suggested that the county should not allow shopping centers and big-box retailers to gobble up property set aside for manufacturing and office complexes.

County approves proposal to buy 13 sheriff's vehicles

The Carroll County Sheriff's Office would get 13 new vehicles under a purchasing proposal for the 2005 fiscal year.

The county commissioners approved yesterday a letter of intent to buy 10 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors, two Ford Taurus sedans and a Ford Expedition at a cost of $254,708.

The letter of intent would allow the county to piggyback on the state's contract for police vehicles for a savings of about $100,000, said Richard L. Shelton, chief of the county's Bureau of Purchasing. It also reserves those vehicles on the car manufacturer's production line, Shelton said.

The county would purchase the cars after July 1 when the new fiscal year begins, he said.

Firehouse expansion plans in Lineboro are under way

The Lineboro Volunteer Fire Department hopes to hire a general contractor by June for the expansion of its firehouse.

The project includes a 6,600-square-foot addition to the firehouse on Main Street and renovating the existing structure to allow for overnight stays, said fire company President David Dickmyer.

Dickmyer told the county commissioners yesterday that the fire company hopes to have the addition under roof by next winter and the $1.1 million project completed by May next year.

The fire company also is seeking a variance from having a 100-foot stream buffer for the firehouse addition, Dickmyer said, noting the existing building abuts a stream.

Westminster considers joining electricity co-op

Westminster officials are considering joining an electricity-buying cooperative formed by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber formed the cooperative for its members to ensure lower energy rates after Maryland's commercial and industrial electricity rates are fully deregulated in July.

The Westminster Common Council unanimously voted Monday to join the cooperative on a conditional basis. The deadline to join is March 5 and it would cost between $250 and $500, said Joseph Urban, the city's finance director.

In the meantime, city officials will explore whether joining the cooperative would benefit Westminster. The city pays about $800,000 annually in electricity, said Joseph Urban, the city's finance director.

"I'd rather risk the $500 to find out rather than not find out," Councilman Thomas K. Ferguson said of joining the cooperative.

Infrastructure repairs in Westminster completed

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. has finished repair work on the electrical and gas infrastructure in and around Westminster.

The maintenance work completed in December came after an evaluation of the electrical system in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isabel and concerns over gas mains at the intersection of Green and Anchor streets, where a sinkhole disrupted service to about 50 homes in July.

Mike Fowler, a senior government relations representative for BGE, told the Westminster Common Council on Monday that maintenance crews repaired or upgraded service to 27 customers on West Green Street to bring them up to current standards.

In the spring, a crew will make permanent repairs on the asphalt on Green and Anchor streets, Fowler said.

The utility also upgraded nine transformers that were identified as needing maintenance after the post-Isabel evaluation.

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