Bel Air commissioners approve two development ordinances

A local business owner accused the town of Bel Air of "political favoritism" Monday.

Tim Sullivan addressed the commissioners about issues he has had with what he called favoritism in regard to parking permits in town. During his comment, Sullivan claimed Police Chief Leo Matrangola had issued parking permits to another business owner near his business on Powell Avenue.

"That is not valid, not acceptable," he said. "That's called political favoritism or being a friend."

Sullivan also claimed he had previously been denied extra permits and thought it was favoritism to allow another business, as well as Commissioner Rob Preston's business, several parking permits. Preston's permits were granted because of a fence "encroaching" on his property, the town's planning director, Kevin Small said. There's a construction site adjacent to Preston's Stationery on South Main Street.

Small responded to Sullivan and said the permits were issued through his office on a temporary basis and were due to expire in the next week or so. There is a difference, Small added, between a temporary permit to relieve a condition and a permanent one.

Mayor Eddie Hopkins suggested Sullivan get in contact with Town Administrator Chris Schlehr to mitigate the issue.

Also at their meeting Monday, the town commissioners approved two ordinances dealing with development in the town.

The first, the adequate public facilities ordinance, amends a town code previously known as "impact fees." The changes to the code, according to Small, are to "focus the intent of the ordinance, clarify calculations and methods of calculating."

When they first looked at the ordinance, he added, they identified several issues, including formulas that didn't read clearly, no minimum improvement threshold and a lack of specific time frame for when improvements are required.

The vote followed a public hearing, where one person commented. Mike Jones asked commissioners to postpone the vote.

"It's been two years since the last one came in," he said. "I'm not sure it's urgent now."

One of several questions Jones raised was what the next step would be if a developer's engineer deemed that there would be a minimal impact to a town sewer system and the town said differently.

After the public hearing, Commissioner David Carey noted that Small had been meeting with Jones regularly prior to the hearing and had taken his comments into consideration.

Commissioners also approved the development regulation amendment ordinance, which, according to Small, included changes made to clarify the developers' responsibilities and clarify the scope of study.

Other business

Board members awarded two contract, including $12,726 for new carpet and tiles in portions of town hall and $251,230 to demolish the newly purchased Branch Banking and Trust building and repave the parking lot.

Public Works Director Randolph Robertson added that the work on the BB&T building/lot should be completed in the next two to three months.

Two resolutions amending the civilian and sworn officers' pension plans were introduced. The changes proposed are the result of an actuary evaluation, according to Director of Administration Joyce Oliver, and the plans require that the employees, not the town, provide any additional funding if necessary.

The increases proposed, which the trustees have approved, Oliver said, are 2 percent for civilians and 2.22 percent for sworn officers. This brings the total contribution to 3.5 percent for civilians and 9.22 percent for sworn officers.

Commissioners also introduced an ordinance amending the town's flood plain code, which, according to Small, is to comply with the national flood insurance program. That public hearing will be held during the January 3 meeting.


Sgt. Richard Carter, whose retirement will become effective Dec. 31, was recognized for 38 years with the Bel Air Police Department.

Commissioners recognized Michael Blum for his work with the Christmas parade earlier in December and Erin Bourn, a fifth-grader at Homestead Wakefield Elementary School.

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