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PARKING PLEAS HEARD

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Officials from two Main Street shops told the City Council's public improvements committee Monday that their business has dropped since the leasing of an adjacent parking lot to a downtown mall.

Richard King, owner of Beltone Hearing Aid Service, and Roger Evans, vice president and manager of Evans Opticians, asked the committee to work out an agreement with the owners of Winchester Exchange for the use of four of the lot's 18 parking spaces. The committee planned to look into the issue.

The businesses, located at 1 E. Main St., serve a large clienteleof elderly customers.

The council leased the 18-space lot, located behind the businesses, to David and Robert Max, owners of the mall,after conducting a survey of some downtown merchants and conducting public hearings.

NO ICE SKATING

DATELINE: WESTMINSTER

WESTMINSTER -- No ice skating signs will remain posted at a city-owned pond at Eden Farms until the City Council determines its liability.

Several residents from Willow Ponds and Sullivan Heights asked the council Monday to continue to allow their children to skate on the pond, which they estimated is 18 to 24 inches deep.

Residents said their children have been skating on the pond for years.

Council members were sympathetic to the parents but asked them to keep their children fromskating until legal issues are answered.

The city posted the signs after receiving complaints.

WATER INCREASE SOUGHT

DATELINE: WESTMINSTER

WESTMINSTER -- City officials plan to monitor a request to the Maryland Water Resources Administration to increase average daily water usage from 11,000 to 118,000 gallons at the Wakefield Valley Golf Course.

The golf course also is asking the state to increase water usage from 16,000 to 410,000 gallons during the month of maximum use.

Mayor W. Benjamin Brown said the golf course will have to justify the increase to the state. He said the city will receive that information and then hold a public hearing.

Meanwhile, Councilman Edward Calwell, in a monthly update on the city's voluntary water ban, said the reservoir has reached 74 percent of its capacity.

HOOK-UP WAIVER SOUGHT

DATELINE: UNION BRIDGE

UNION BRIDGE -- An attorney for four homeowners whose properties recently were annexed into town asked the council Monday to waive its requirement to hook into town's water supply.

"My clients have adequate favorable water supply," saidDavid L. Johnson. "They do not want to connect but would reserve theright to connect in the future. They also agree to pay the $1,000 hook-up fee, over . . . five years."

The record will stay open for 10 days, allowing for written comments, before a council decision.

About 24 residents of the same area north of town have no choice because they need the town water. Andrea Wilson, whose Honeysuckle Lane property will be hooked into the town system, disagrees with her neighbors' request.

"It's unfair to the town to set a precedent like this and make an exception for four people," she said. "We should all work together."

In other business:

* The Search Committee reported on available space to relocate the town office. Members toured twosites in town and offices in Hampstead, Manchester and Taneytown.

"The tour was informative," said Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. "Other towns were helpful, telling us about different office needs."

The committee is recommending the renovation of the Pump House on Locust Street.

* The mayor said the town's curbside recycling project could be in jeopardy. Haden Trash Removal, the town's hauler, said it will finish its contract this year, but offers no guarantees for the next year.

"We have one of the highest recycling percentages in the county," Jones said. "Our hauler just isn't making any money with it."

CONDITIONAL OKS EYED

DATELINE: HAMPSTEAD

HAMPSTEAD -- The Planning and Zoning Commission informally discussed the status of conditional approvals for developers.

Member Oden Kemp raised concerns Monday evening because he found it difficult to "keep track" of conditional approvals.

"Is there some way through the (Town Council) to have someone approved to follow through?" asked Kemp. "There are so many approvals and we may lose track of things, and the only way I pick themup is if I go back into the minutes from the meetings."

Manager John A. Riley said the town has a "suspense file" which tracks progress of developer's plans which need approvals.

"Whatever is outstanding is in this file," Riley said. "The commission will get a report at their upcoming meeting so each member knows what stage development plans are in."

Riley added plans must have all approvals before hesigns them.

MORE HOMELESS APPLY

More applicants for welfare and other programs have had to move in with friends or relatives, or to a shelter, before they even get to the Carroll County Department of Social Services, director M. Alexander Jones said.

Jones said he has noticed a gradual increase over the last year in the number of peoplewho have lost their homes before applying for services. The number of overall applicants has not gone up at the same rate, he said, but more are exhausting other resources before asking for public assistance.

"These people are moving in with relatives or friends in an effort to make ends meet," Jones said. "This shows there's some degree of coping going on before they come to us. People come to us as a lastresort."

In January 1991, an average of one person a week appliedfor services and claimed to be living with a friend or relative. By July, the average was eight, and by Jan. 6, 1992, it was 26 people a week.

Also, Jones has seen an increase in people listing homeless shelters as their address. In January 1991, the average was one applicant a week, but by Jan. 6 this year, 12 of that week's applicants were living in a shelter.

Jones reported the statistics to the DSS Board of Directors at its monthly meeting yesterday.

In other business:

* Jamie Wehler, supervisor of the child support collection unit, reported collections at 71 percent of the year's goal, compared to a national average of 25 percent.

* Nancy Ostovitz, supervisor of the mediation program, reported an 85-percent success rate since July in getting divorcing couples to agree to custody without going to court.

The county-funded program serves people of all income levels. Ostovitz said the 85 percent is probably inflated because a lot oflawyers and judges have been recommending the program in recent months. She said she expects the rate to go down slightly, but still be higher than the national success rate of 50 to 60 percent.

"It keeps the child out of the middle of the fighting," she said.

The program involves parent education and attempts to get couples to talk. The process is separate from any litigation the couple is going through, and is not used as evidence in any court proceedings.

'CHILD FOCUS'WEEKEND

County social services administrators are planning to askCarroll's religious leaders to devote a weekend of ministering and preaching in March to raising awareness of children's issues.

Carroll County Youth Services Inc. Director George Giese outlined a proposal for "Child Focus Weekend" before the county commissioners yesterday. The program is targeted for the weekend of March 1.

Giese displayed a letter to be sent to the leaders of all 168 county places of worship, asking them to dedicate their preaching efforts that weekend to raising awareness about the children's issues facing society.

Citing U.S. Census Bureau data, Giese told the commissioners that about 20 percent of all children live in poverty.

The county plans to broadcast a local cable program to outline and publicize the campaign.

BILL GETTING SUPPORT

County administrators say they will testifyin support of a bill in the Maryland General Assembly that would allow agencies such as the Carroll Youth Services Bureau Inc. to charge fees for services.

Among the bureau's services are individual and family counseling and parenting classes. Director George Giese told the county commissioners yesterday that fees would be assessed on a sliding scale according to the client's ability to pay. No one would beturned away, even if a fee structure were to be established, he said.

PLANS NEED REVIEW

DATELINE: MOUNT AIRY

MOUNT AIRY -- Preliminaryplans for the Mount Airy Community Center site in Wildwood Park needto be reviewed by the town's Parks and Recreation Board, the town Planning and Zoning Commission said Monday night.

The commission, which expressed concerns about parking and access to roads, told centerofficials to have them reviewed by the parks board.

The center, which conducts dances and youth programs around town, found a permanent home late last year when it agreed to lease a 50-year-old former dance hall.

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