Hampstead Town Council candidate: Jim Roark

Hampstead Town Council candidate: Jim Roark
Incumbent Jim Roark is running for one of two Hampstead Town Council seats against Tim Babylon, Daniel Collier, Holly Oertel, and fellow incumbent Dave Unglesbee. (Jim Roark/Courtesy photo)

Ahead of this spring’s municipal elections, the Carroll County Times has asked candidates to provide information on themselves and their priorities. Their responses are listed here in full.

Incumbent Jim Roark is running for one of two Hampstead Town Council seats against Tim Babylon, Daniel Collier, Holly Oertel, and fellow incumbent Dave Unglesbee. Here are Roark’s responses.

Background information

Occupation: Print Shop Manager at Roark Printing since 1981

Education: High School Graduate - Franklin High School, Class of 1981

Community Groups Involved In:

Brandywine Station Condominium Association Board Member since 2008

President of Brandywine Station Condominium Association since 2014

Chairman of the Bucs Club Kids Campaign since it was created in 2016

Past Political Experience:

Member of Hampstead’s Planning & Zoning Commission: 2013 - 2015

Member of Hampstead’s Town Council: 2015 - 2019

Hampstead Town Council Liaison to the Planning and Zoning Commission: 2015 - 2019

Years Lived in Hampstead: 12 Years

Why do you want to serve in this role?

In 2013, when I was asked to consider joining the Planning & Zoning Commission, I agreed to do it for one reason. I love the town of Hampstead. There was a position that needed to be filled and I agreed to fill it. I also promised that I would try to do all I could to help the Town in anyway necessary, and at the same time, not do anything to embarrass the Town. Same promise when I was asked to run for Council in 2015. While it’s been a rough four years, with the closing of North Carroll High and the Main Street project, I’ve been told I’ve been doing a great job and I feel like I have. The fight over NCHS only reemphasized my love for this town, as virtual strangers came together to fight the fight that no one could win, and did it with class and dignity. They took our high school, but they did not take our spirit. I feel that the people of Hampstead deserve the best possible representation we can give them and I know I am capable of doing that. Also, we are almost to the end of the Main Street project, and I would love to be around to help infuse new life into Main Street and all of Hampstead.

How do you plan to represent your municipality’s interests in the county government?

I have a good working relationship with Commissioner Weaver. We have bent each other’s ear many times on items pertaining to Hampstead. I also keep up to date with the Counties Planning and Zoning Department and anything they are working on that could impact our Town. We get monthly updates from Price Wagoner of the Counties Department of Planning, and if I have any questions or concerns, he is there to answer and resolve them. The good relationship I have with Price, and previously Bobbi Moser, has been extremely helpful on many occasions.

Name something you would begin working to accomplish as soon as your first week on the job.

It’s budget time in Hampstead, and during May and June, the Town needs to work on and approve the budget for fiscal year 2020. My main goal, which should happen, is no increase in taxes. Hampstead’s property tax rate is one of the lowest in the county, and will remain there. At the same time, we need to make sure that we meet the needs of our police and public works departments. The Hampstead Police and Public Works departments are as important, if not more, than any other division of this town and they need to be properly equipped to do the best job necessary.

What skills do you have to offer constituents that other candidates might not?

Patience, making rational decisions. I have learned over the years that when you hear a story, there is normally a second side. Before making a decision, make sure you have all facts. Then you must make a decision based on what is in the best interest of the entire town, not just a select few. Along the same lines, one of my strengths has been doing the research necessary to know all the facts needed to make the correct decision. It’s not uncommon for me to spend hours “doing homework,” studying the Town and County Codes to make absolutely sure the decision is correct. I always make sure I am totally prepared for any question or situation that could occur.

What one thing would you most like to see changed?

The only thing I can think of is...get the darn road finished. It’s been a major pain to all of us, but at the same time, when done, it will be a huge improvement and will open our Downtown Main Street to so many exciting new visions. This is a State and BGE project, not a town project, so we have little say in the progression. But through weekly meetings and daily discussions between the town and SHA, we are trying to push them along. Hopefully by late fall of 2019, we will see smooth roads through most of Main Street.

What are your campaign priorities?

#3 - Continue to attract new businesses to Hampstead, and then make sure they thrive. We have had over a half dozen new businesses come into Town in the last year and there are a few more in the pipeline. I’m not talking big box stores, but local Mom and Pop stores, restaurants and the like.

#2 - Continue to support the Police and Fire Departments. These are our award winning first responders who keep us safe and do a great job.

#1 - Just try and keep Hampstead the great small town it is now, and ensure that the “quality of life” factor in Hampstead remains as high as it is now.

What is your position on the North Carroll High School site and its future uses?

This school was a vital hub of our community, and while we lost the school, the grounds and building remain the same vital part of our lives. The ball fields and gymnasium are in constant use and must remain for our kids and their rec leagues. Ideally, this is the perfect location for a sports complex for the entire county to use, including a turf field in the stadium. This issue has been a ongoing discussion between the county and the town, since the county owns the land, but the town controls the zoning, The land is currently zoning “Conservation - For Municipal Use Only,” and it needs to stay that way to insure we have the facilities for the kids of our town sports leagues.

Since I sit on the Planning & Zoning Commission of Hampstead, I was heavily involved in this process. In my opinion, there were 2 major concerns with this property from the beginning. Number one, the impact of the traffic on Houcksville Road if there was the only entrance. I told the developers the first time I saw the plans that they needed to have a second entrance/exit point tying into the southern circle of the bypass. Due to the concerns voiced by myself and the rest of the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Town Council, the various agencies involved in the County Government, and most importantly, the citizens that this will impact, the developers are adding a second point of accessibility at the southern circle. They are currently redoing their concept plan to add this second entrance. Major Concern Number 2 was the possible contamination of the land. I know the history of the land, the contamination and the devastating impact it had on the families involved. Fast forward to 2008, and the land was sold for 4.2 million dollars to Florida Rock Properties. Since the original contamination of the land and today, remediation processes have been ongoing to clean the ground. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has cleared the ground to be developed as a residential development. In all my dealings with the MDE, if one hair is out of place, they will shut down your project. Their guidelines are more stringent than the Federal Environmental Association. When the leading toxicologist for the MDE, who has held that position for 30 years, stands in front of a full Town Hall crowd and tells us that the land is safe and that he and his family would live on that land, I believe that. Also, this development will have Town water coming in, no wells. But just as an added precaution, over 15 wells surrounding the property were tested for any signs of contamination and they all tested clean. Hampstead has had almost no growth in 10 years, and I am not a “Growth at any Means” guy at all, but you need some. Like any business or household, if your money coming in remains the same, but at the same time your bills are going up, you need some growth to cover that. On a last note, I researched other developments in Town such as Roberts Field and North Carroll Farms and calculated the number of dwellings and densities. Roberts Field has 756 dwelling units on 131.5 acres with a density of 5.7 dwelling units per acre. North Carroll Farms has 307 dwelling units on 73.5 acres with a density of 4.17 dwelling units per acre. Hampstead Overlook is proposing 255 dwelling units on 118 acres for a density of 2.16 dwelling units per acre. Looking at and researching other developments by these builders I think Hampstead Overlook will be a welcome addition to our town.