After a relatively short public hearing in which no one from the public spoke, Bel Air town commissioners approved a development regulation amendment to add "non-profit" to its definition of a group home.
"The subject of group homes has been visited from time to time," Kevin Small, director of planning, said at Monday's Board of Town Commissioners meeting.
Most recently, several residents from the Broadway and Franklin Street area have complained about a proliferation of group homes and asked the town to do something about them. There's not much, town officials have said, because the homes are protected.
In the 1990s, the town passed the ordinance to comply with requirement of several federal and state acts, including the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act.
The current definition of a group home in that ordinance, however, has an "inconsistency" with federal laws now, and the town wanted to amend the issue.
"'Non-profit' was absent from our definition," Small said.
Now, under three sections of the ordinance, the word non-profit has been added, such as, "No more than eight persons residing together in a non-profit private facility…," and "…who reside together in a facility that is not organized wholly or partly to make a profit."
"The inconsistency is an understanding that commercial for profit businesses are not harmonious with a residential setting and should be regulated separately," Small said.
The definition of "non-profit" would be deferred to the state's current interpretation, he added.
No commissioners made comments on the amendment before the public hearing was closed and the board approved the measure.
Commissioners also awarded several contracts, including one to purchase a speed awareness trailer, one for a company to clean town hall ducts and another for a new pick-up truck.
The speed awareness trailer, which will be purchased for $15,780, had been budgeted by the town for $17,500.
Bel Air Police Chief Leo Matrangola told the commissioners the current trailer was purchased in 2004 and is scheduled for replacement.
"It's expensive for us to repair," he said. Last year, he continued, the town spent $1,300 to keep it operational.
The trailer tracks motorists' speeds in residential areas, and can be used as a message board.
Commissioner Susan Burdette said the message board function "will really be useful for all the events we're going to be having in town" during the summer.
A Ford F350 truck for the department of public works will be purchased for $25,465 from Apple Ford of Columbia.
The truck will replace one in the town's fleet with more than 55,000 miles on it, but has significant frame damage and rust because of salt.
Upper Bay Region in Fallston will clean the town hall duct system for $7,600.
New parking lot
Two contracts for work at the new parking lot on the former BB&T site on Main Street were awarded.
One contract, $11,550 to Santos Construction, is for curb and site work, and other, $26,157 to American Asphalt, is for paving the site.
Town administrator Chris Schlehr said the contracts weren't bid out because demolition of the bank took "a little longer than we anticipated and we wanted to get the work done to support the farmers market and for the Fourth of July [parade]."
The town had "worked extensively" with Santos on another project and the demolition contractor for the project used American for its work.