Mayors, commission start meetings again

Municipalities, county share news and concerns

April 30, 2004|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Carroll County mayors welcomed the return of a tradition yesterday in their first meeting with the county commissioners since the new board took office in 2002.

The long-standing quarterly meetings usually involved an informal swapping of news from the eight incorporated municipalities and a chance to raise concerns.

The meetings between the mayors and the commissioners had faded away with the creation of the Council of Governments, which was formed to work on regional issues such as transportation, development and education.

"I'm glad we started them back up again," Hampstead Mayor Haven N. Shoemaker Jr. said of the meetings. The other mayors who attended - from Manchester, New Windsor, Taneytown, Union Bridge and Westminster - agreed. Sykesville Mayor Jonathan S. Herman didn't attend, and Mount Airy's town planner went in place of Mayor James S. Holt.

"I think we need this dialogue," said Manchester Mayor Christopher B. D'Amario. Before adjourning, the group set meeting dates for August and October.

The county is committed to working with the town governments to make sure public services meet the demands of development and the challenge of diminishing state funding, Commissioner Dean L. Minnich told the mayors.

Officials from the county's planning and budget offices echoed that theme. They asked the mayors to take their ideas to the commissioners for dealing with issues such as crowded schools, emergency and police services, water resources, transportation, and increasing the commercial tax base.

County planning Director Steven C. Horn talked about the revised standards for adequate facilities - including the addition of a "yellow light" when conditions approach inadequacy - and the plans to increase the role of the county's Planning and Zoning Commission. Water resource protection is also a priority, he said.

The county also plans to update its master plan, with a "much higher level of partnership and cooperation with the towns," Horn said.

The existing plan used a model established in the mid-1960s, Horn said, but the county wants to go beyond "just nuts and bolts [to] a new planning model for the county."

"There's a lot of good stuff in there," he said. "But it needs changing, [and we need] for you and your staff and your residents to participate in the discussion."

As for education, Ted Zaleski, director of management and budget, said the county has set aside about $500,000 to begin planning for a project to ease crowding at North Carroll High School. A middle school for South Carroll is also planned and is intended to open in 2009.

Also, he said, the state will provide money - but not enough - for its mandated all-day kindergarten.

The mayors shared with the commissioners news from their towns.

Manchester increased its water supply with the connection of new wells, helped by county money, D'Amario said. But he said the town will need additional water sources to keep pace with development.

Mount Airy has adopted a master plan and won a Main Street Maryland designation from the state, said Town Planner Monika Jenkins. No new subdivisions have been considered, she said, while the town studies its infrastructure, which will include a new 1-million- gallon water-storage tank.

In New Windsor, Mayor Sam M. Pierce said, bids have been opened for a planned 375,000- gallon water tank, which will enable the town to repair its 27- year-old tank.

Union Bridge Mayor Bret D. Grossnickle said that with two planned developments that could triple the 1,000 population of Carroll's smallest town, town officials want to work with the county to manage the growth.

"I think this is great we're back together again," said Taneytown Mayor W. Robert Flickinger, who thanked the others for their concern after his recent open-heart surgery.

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