Carroll Digest


March 10, 2004

Ex-mayor's funeral to be held Saturday in Mount Airy

Funeral services for Gerald R. Johnson, the former mayor of Mount Airy who was killed Thursday in a traffic accident, are scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Calvary United Methodist Church, 403 S. Main St., Mount Airy.

Visitation will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow and Friday at Stauffer Funeral Home, 8 East Ridgeville Blvd., Mount Airy. Burial will be at the town's historic Pine Grove Chapel Cemetery on Main Street.

Johnson, 70, a retired high school teacher, was driving west on Interstate 70 west of Quinn Road in Frederick County at about 7 p.m., when his 1989 Ford Bronco was struck from behind by a 1995 Toyota Celica, whose driver was attempting to change lanes, according to Maryland State Police at the Frederick barracks.

He was killed in the collision after his vehicle left the highway, overturned several times and landed upside down at the base of an embankment, police said. His wife, Patricia Roher Johnson, 60, was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center and released several days later.

The other driver was charged with misdemeanors of making an unsafe lane change and negligent driving, police said. The driver and two passengers were treated at Frederick Memorial Hospital and released.

Johnson served three terms as Mount Airy's mayor, until he was defeated by a write-in campaign for James S. Holt in the May 2002 town election. Holt closed the town offices Friday and declared a week of mourning, with flags to be flown at half-staff through tomorrow.

Tuesday meeting set on methadone clinic

The Westminster Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled to reconvene at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to deliberate on whether a proposed methadone treatment center is allowed in the city's downtown area.

The three-member panel met briefly yesterday and said they wanted more time to review a transcript of testimony offered during a two-day hearing in January and other evidence.

Applicants for Westminster Institute are fighting a zoning decision that prohibits them from opening the treatment center in the 200 block of E. Main St.

The panel must decide whether to categorize the center as a professional office or as a medical center. The latter would not be allowed in Main Street's downtown business zone.

Comprehensive plan draft available to the public

A draft of Westminster's comprehensive plan is now available for public review.

The inch-thick plan details the city's vision and goals for the next six years. It covers everything from land use and housing to neighborhood revitalization and transportation.

The plan was adopted in June 1998 and is updated every six years.

Residents can review the draft at Westminster City Hall. The city's Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to hold a work session April 8, followed by a public hearing on May 6.

@SUBHEDCouncil rejects expansion of city business district

Citing lack of community support, the Westminster Common Council killed a proposal to extend the city's business district west into a primarily residential neighborhood along Pennsylvania Avenue.

During a brief discussion Monday night, the council agreed that there was not enough support to move forward on the zoning amendment. But the council directed the planning staff to consider ways to accommodate existing businesses that want to expand, which is not allowed under the current zoning ordinance.

The proposal was among two dozen recommendations issued by a task force of government officials and residents in the summer of 2002. The task force examined ways to revitalize the troubled neighborhood around Pennsylvania Avenue.

During a public hearing in January, a majority of residents opposed the zoning amendment that would have allowed the establishment of light businesses, such as coffeehouses and art galleries, from West Main Street to Sullivan Avenue.

Councilman Thomas K. Ferguson said he was compelled by the testimony of a resident who said the city should first address other issues, such as installing street lights and increasing homeownership on Pennsylvania Avenue, before extending the business zone.

Westminster to eliminate skate park monitors

Westminster will stop hiring people to monitor activities at the city's skate park.

The Common Council voted Monday to accept the recreation department's recommendation to eliminate the park monitors.

Planning and public works Director Thomas B. Beyard told the council that Westminster is one of the few municipalities that still employ monitors in skate parks.

The park on the corner of Tuc Road and Locust Street opened in 1999 for skateboarders and in-line skaters.

The city charges $5 for a daily pass and $50 for an 11-month season pass. Ron Schroers, administrator of the city's Office of Recreation and Parks, said the money saved by eliminating three part-time monitors could enable the city to offer use of the park for free.

Council OKs incentives for parking garage use

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