Carroll County Digest


September 24, 2004

Workshops planned on bills aimed at all-terrain vehicles

After receiving numerous complaints about noise, dust and trespassing stemming from the use of all-terrain vehicles, the Carroll County government is proposing ordinances to tackle the problem.

The first measure would mirror the state's noise regulations, and the ordinance would be enforced after authorities received complaints about potential violations.

The county commissioners are also considering a zoning amendment that would revise the conditional use for commercial race tracks or courses. The amendment would create a conditional use for an established riding area for the private recreational use of all-terrain vehicles on lots in the conservation and agricultural zoning districts.

The commissioners will hold five workshops around the county so residents can learn more about the proposals and offer comment. Meetings will be held Wednesday in Room 003 of the County Office Building in Westminster; Oct. 4 at the North Carroll Senior Center in Greenmount; Oct. 18 at the Mount Airy Senior Center; Oct. 20 in the cafeteria of Oklahoma Road Middle School in Eldersburg; and Oct. 27 at Runnymede Elementary School in Westminster. All meetings will begin at 7 p.m.

"We are hitting every area of the county and hope to hear lots of comments," said Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge. "The ordinance will be written according to the citizens of the county."

Copies of the draft ordinances are available at the county's library branches or by request.

Information: noise ordinance, 410-386-2756; zoning amendments, 410-386-2980.

State police hoping to add to Westminster contingent

Retirements are taking a toll on the Westminster state police barracks and will soon leave the force at 89 troopers.

"We are looking to get up to 97 and have asked for four troopers from the new class that graduates next month," State Police Lt. Gary Tracy said in a meeting with the county commissioners yesterday.

The retirements have not affected the resident trooper program's contingent of 45 officers, he said.

In other law enforcement news, Carroll County Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning reported that several deputies are involved in a three-week critical response training program in Howard County. He also said four more inmates from the Carroll County Detention Center have been placed on home detention.

Meetings on growth set in Finksburg, Mount Airy

The county's Department of Planning has scheduled community meetings in Finksburg and Mount Airy next month to give residents an opportunity to question staff and comment on proposed growth plans for those areas.

Staff members will be in Mount Airy at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at a location to be announced and in Finksburg at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at Sandymount Elementary School, 2222 Old Westminster Pike.

After the discussions, the two plans will move forward with the county Planning and Zoning Commission.

Environmental violations may draw civil citations

James Slater, the county's deputy director of environment and resource protection, has asked the county commissioners for the authority to issue civil citations to those who do not comply with county environmental regulations. He plans to meet with the District Court, which would enforce the fines.

"This is sometimes the only tool we have available," Slater said. "Our inspectors prefer education and avoidance before enforcement, but we need this tool in the box."

The citations would strengthen enforcement of regulations governing such areas as grading, forest conservation and stormwater management.

Constellation Energy pays $3.5 million tax bill

Constellation Energy, the county's biggest payer of property taxes, paid its bill yesterday. The company, formerly known as BGE, handed over $3.5 million on the due date.

"Carroll County is one of the strongest partners we have," said Michael L. Fowler, senior government relations representative for Constellation.

Rob Burke, deputy county comptroller, said Constellation pays more county property taxes than any other entity "by about double."

State grant to help county revise airport master plan

The Carroll County commissioners voted yesterday to accept a state grant that would help pay for an updated master plan for the Carroll County Regional Airport and to increase the county's share by about $6,000.

The Federal Aviation Administration is paying 95 percent of the study's cost of $452,000. The Maryland Aviation Administration is contributing $11,312 and the county is picking up the remainder, said Ted Zaleski, director of management and budget.

The commissioners recently named 19 people to a committee that will create a master plan for the airport. The panel's first meeting is scheduled for Oct. 13.

County may allow delay on repayment of loan

The commissioners voted yesterday to allow payments to be postponed until 2010 on a loan the county granted for the new Carroll County Agricultural Center, but they reserved a final decision until they get a look at next year's budget figures.

The county approved loans of $3.85 million for the new $5.5 million Danele Shipley Memorial Arena that opened in July, with repayment to begin in 2006, said Ted Zaleski, director of management and budget.

But the center's operations could be jeopardized if it does not get more time for repayment, Zaleski said. The county also could "forgive $500,000 or $1 million of that debt," he said.

"I have no problem with 2010" for repayment, Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge said, "to give them opportunities to rent the facility, to really get it up and moving. But we have to look at the budget before we can say we forgive any of this indebtedness."

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