Carroll Digest

CARROLL COUNTY DIGEST

February 27, 2004

Senate committee sets hearing on plan for county road costs

The state Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to hear comments at 1 p.m. today on a Carroll County legislative proposal that would give the county greater power to recoup the cost of road projects.

Under the proposal, the county could build roads and recoup some of the costs from developers when houses are built near them.

County planning director Steven C. Horn is expected to testify at the hearing in Annapolis. If the Senate committee approves the proposal, it will go before the full Senate for a vote.

Comment period ends on changes to zoning code

The public record on proposed changes to Carroll County's conditional zoning uses will be open until the end of business today.

The county commissioners are expected to deliberate on the zoning revisions next week, County Attorney Kimberly A. Millender said.

A nine-month freeze on proposed commercial development on industrial land expires March 10. The commissioners imposed the freeze 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 to eight a list that allows as many as 70 conditional commercial uses on industrial land.

During a public hearing Wednesday, a few residents said the changes would hurt small businesses. Others said the county needs to preserve its industrial tax base.

Health agency returns $282,332 to the county

While many Carroll County agencies prepare to ask the commissioners for increases in their budgets, the county's Health Department is giving back money.

Larry Leitch, Carroll's health officer, returned $282,332 in unspent money to the county during a Cabinet meeting yesterday. Staff vacancies created much of the department's surplus, he said.

"That is the dark side of this," Leitch said. "We are constantly running vacancies."

Ted Zaleski, county director of management and budget, said many county departments are dealing with personnel shortages.

"We should make this a point of discussion as we go through the budget," he said.

Homeless count expected to be completed today

Carroll County expects to complete its annual survey of homeless people today. Michael Ritter, deputy director of Carroll's Department of Human Services, said his staff and several volunteers from Carroll Community College are working on the census.

Volunteers have been to soup kitchens and homeless shelters and have organized forums in an effort to get the most accurate count.

"We want to know if what we are doing is working and if we are meeting the needs of the homeless and those at risk of homelessness," Ritter said in a meeting with the county commissioners yesterday.

The 2003 survey located 79 homeless people. Ritter said he expects that number to increase this year.

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