Bel Air's Rockfield Manor is set to get upgrades and just in time for Valentine's Day.
Members of the Board of Town Commissioners agreed during a work session Tuesday to approve improvements to the restroom area.
Upgrades to Rockfield Manor will create separate men's and women's restrooms, town Director of Administration Michael Krantz said. A wall will be constructed to divide the two restrooms and reconfigure the hallway to support the gender-specific restrooms.
Town Public Works Director Randy Robertson said his department has wanted to make improvements to the restrooms for quite some time.
The town allotted $20,000 in the FY2013 budget for improvements to the restrooms. The Rockfield Foundation, which operates the manor house, is providing an additional $10,000, which will be used to modify the wall.
Two contractors bid on the project, Robertson said. The lower bid was a little over $31,000 and the higher bid was $47,000.
Robertson said it is important to start construction as quickly as possible, in anticipation of the annual Valentine's Day events at Rockfield Manor.
"We want to go ahead and get approval to let the contractor get going on the work instead of waiting another week and a half for the town hall meeting," Robertson said.
Robertson said the construction is scheduled to be completed the first week in February.
Office zoning issue
An ordinance will be introduced at the next town meeting for the town commissioners to decide whether to rezone a parcel behind a doctor's office at 722 S. Main St.
Because of Monday's Martin Luther King Day Holiday, the meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 21.
The doctor's office, owned by Dr. Raman K. Sood, was originally a residence that was later converted into a business decades ago, Planning Director Kevin Small explained.
Small said the doctor's office is zoned as B1, a limited access business. Sood is requesting permission to rezone a parcel of land in the back of his office to B1 as well.
Sood acquired the parcel, which is zoned R2 – medium density residential, through a co-ownership with Dennis Rehman, its original sole owner, Small said.
The town gave the co-owners permission a few years ago to combine the two parcels, Small said, allowing through access from the doctor's office into a back parking lot area.
"The town normally doesn't approve combining pieces of land with different zoning," Small said. "They did in this case because the parcel didn't have access to a through road."
Small said the Bel Air Planning Commission has been unable to give the board of commissioners a recommendation on the zoning issue because it could not agree whether the applicant meets the requirements to request rezoning.
"A determination can be made in zoning if there has been a change in the neighborhood to necessitate rezoning or if it has been found that the original zoning was incorrect," Small said.
The planning commission is presenting the ordinance to the town commissioners without recommendation, Small said. He said the planning commission voted twice, once to approve the request and once to deny it and could not come to a majority on either vote.
New finance policy
The town commissioners are expected to vote next week on changes to its finance policy for signing checks.
Town Finance Director Lisa Moody said two recent key personnel changes, the election of Town Commissioner Patrick Richards in November and the hiring of Town Administrator James Fielder last week, have necessitated a change in check-signing policy.
"Once Richards came on as commissioner we knew we needed to update who could sign checks," Moody said. "We figured we would wait until we also hired the new town administrator, too."
Once the new finance policy is approved, both Richards' and Fielder's signatures will be on file for signing checks, Moody said.
Audit, sewer rate increase
At the Jan. 21 town meeting, the town commissioners will be presented an official copy of the FY2013 town audit, Moody said.
Moody said the town commissioners can expect to have a copy of the audit in their mailboxes the morning of the meeting.
The town commissioners will also hold a public hearing on proposed increases to the town's sewer rate at next week's meeting.
If approved, the sewer rate for Bel Air customers will increase by 22 cents, from $5.27 per 1,000 gallons of water used to $5.49 per 1,000 gallons of water used. Users will also see a 4.2 percent increase in their base rate.
The commissioners are also expected to vote on the appointment of Fran Johnson to the Board of Appeals and the reappointments of Tim Coale to the Historic Preservation Commission and Pat Riley to the Cultural Arts Commission.
Return of The Bel Air Bond
Bel Air residents will soon be able to keep up with the happenings in the town, as town officials are working to bring back The Bel Air Bond newsletter.
Past issues of the monthly publication included articles from various town departments about their activities and happenings around town.
Director of Administration Michael Krantz said the town will be working with Full House Press to print the publication, which will also be available online.
Residents can anticipate a short February issue, Krantz said.