Mount Airy council adopts a six-year master plan

Changes include zoning for downtown, tax credit

April 07, 2004|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The Mount Airy Town Council has adopted a new master plan, intended to map the town's future for the next six years by maintaining its character while accepting that the south Carroll County area will continue to grow in the foreseeable future.

Among the changes to the plan are a community-commercial zoning designation for downtown, a provision for historic tourism to be added to its historic preservation and downtown revitalization section, voluntary architectural guidelines that have not yet been drafted, and a recommendation to create a tax-credit program for preservation projects.

At the request of Mayor James S. Holt, the council also agreed Monday night to ask the Planning and Zoning Commission to consider increasing open-space goals. The town planner began work on the new master plan about five years ago.

"Of all the items ... in my two years on the council, this is probably the most important," said council President John P. Medve, noting "scary" population projections of 25,000 to 30,000 area residents.

But the master plan attempts to set boundaries to control growth - which won't slow down, despite residents' hopes, he said, "to provide a community that we all want to continue to live in."

The town had a population of about 7,400 in the 2000 census - but more than 23,000 people live within five miles, according to the town's Web site.

The council also passed a revised adequate public facilities ordinance, intended to make sure that services such as sewer and water, roads, fire protection and schools keep pace with development, said Councilman David W. Pyatt. He has worked for six months on the adequate facilities project with the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Carroll's eight incorporated municipalities have been working to meld their plans with the county government's proposals to keep service in pace with expected growth. New water supply standards also have been set by the state, said Town Attorney Richard R. Titus.

"There must be cooperative collaboration for those standards and processes to work," said former Mount Airy Councilman Franklin M. Johnson Jr., who is serving as the municipal liaison for the county commissioners.

He said he plans to visit all the municipalities before a meeting April 29 to plan the next steps in managing growth and to keep the county and the towns "on the same page."

In other business, the council:

Approved spending $9,600 to prepare bids to demolish an abandoned water tank in the 300 block of N. Main St., near Mount Airy Elementary School. Town engineer Gary Pozzouli said he had the money in the budget but wanted to get the removal accomplished during the summer before school starts - noting that the principal told him she found a piece of metal that had fallen from the tank.

Approved almost $5,000 to prepare bid documents for rehabilitating a second water tank in 2005-2006, after a planned 1 million-gallon tank is in operation next year.

Received the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Co. Chief's Award for passing an ordinance last year that required sprinklers in all new homes.

Voted to spend about $2,000 above the budgeted $15,000 for a new John Deere tractor that will replace the town's 22-year-old model, at the suggestion of Councilman Peter R. Helt of the parks and recreation commission.

Approved $3,285 for an improved bio-nutrient removal process for a water treatment plant that will reduce energy use and save about $2,500 a year, according to Councilman William E. Wagner Jr. of the water and sewer commission.

Introduced an ordinance that would prohibit developers for two years from presenting essentially the same site plan, after it has been rejected by the town's board of appeals. The measure, similar to those in other jurisdictions, will require a public hearing, which is scheduled for June 7.

Postponed a planned vote on a snow-removal ordinance that would fine residents who did not clear their walks within 24 hours, returning the proposal to the street and roads committee at Medve's request. "Notwithstanding the temperature tonight, I don't think we are going to have a major snowstorm," he said.

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