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Carroll County commissioners give Manchester the option to rezone land for proposed development

A developer has petitioned the Town of Manchester to annex a piece of property into town limits as part of a plan for 40 new single-family homes at 2828 Hanover Pike. The property sits across Md. 30 from Manchester Valley High School.
A developer has petitioned the Town of Manchester to annex a piece of property into town limits as part of a plan for 40 new single-family homes at 2828 Hanover Pike. The property sits across Md. 30 from Manchester Valley High School. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

A zoning waiver granted by the Carroll County commissioners will allow the Town of Manchester to rezone a five-acre piece of land, as part of a proposal to develop single-family homes, if town officials choose to do so.

Woodhaven Building & Development Inc., a land development company from Manchester headed by Martin K.P. Hill, petitioned the town to annex a piece of land composed of about 26 acres at 2828 Hanover Pike, across Md. 30 from Manchester Valley High School. They are looking to combine three parcels of land, including what is known as the Lippy property, and install a maximum of 40 single-family homes, according to the plan documents reviewed in July. The land parcel is not inside town limits, though surrounding land is.

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Under the county’s zoning, 18.5 acres are zoned R-10,000 (about four dwelling units per acre), five acres are zoned conservation and 1.5 are zoned C-2, or commercial medium intensity, according to Clare Stewart of the county planning department. Manchester would annex the area and change the zoning to R-20,000 (about two dwelling units per acre) and B-L, or local business zoning. The area that is currently zoned conservation would become residential, which requires a zoning waiver.

In their Thursday meeting, the commissioners hesitated to approve the waiver or to give a favorable recommendation after learning Manchester’s own planning and zoning commission did not support annexing the land. Steve Miller, town administrator, told the commissioners at their Oct. 1 meeting that the planning and zoning commission was concerned the potential development could have a significant impact on town services such as water and sewer.

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Commissioner Stephen Wantz, whose District 1 includes Manchester, did not want to make a decision that could be perceived as the county supporting the potential rezoning. Lynda Eisenberg, county planning director, assured Wantz and his colleagues that granting the waiver simply gives Manchester the ability to rezone the property after annexation, in accordance with its master plan, if it chooses. Without the waiver, the town would have to wait five years to rezone this five-acre piece of land, she said.

“This gives the town the flexibility to make this decision if they so choose to rezone at a future time,” Eisenberg said.

Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, likened the decision to giving Manchester a tool that it may use — or not.

“Just because they can doesn’t mean they will," he said. “It just gives them the allowance to move forward.”

Reassured by county staff, the commissioners unanimously voted to send a comment letter and grant the zoning waiver. Wantz emphasized that the decision of whether to rezone is the town’s decision.

Miller mentioned at a previous Board of County Commissioners meeting that there will be a public hearing on the annexation request before Manchester’s town council and mayor Oct. 13. According to the town’s website, this hearing is scheduled for 7:30 to 8 p.m. at Manchester Town Hall.

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