Sykesville took the first step toward formulating a town landscape ordinance last night when the Planning Commission heard recommendations from Neil Ridgely, the county program manager for landscaping.
Sykesville is the only town in the county without a landscape ordinance, and should have one to enable its officials to better control development, said Mr. Ridgely.
He suggested that the town should adopt the 4-year-old county plan or tailor one to suit the town's needs.
"Consistency with the county gives everyone a level playing field as far as what is expected from the town and developers," he said.
"More developers are playing hard ball" by balking at the requirements in local ordinances once building begins, Mr. Ridgely said.
He said the recently enacted Westminster landscaping ordinance, which refined the county law further, would be a good model for Sykesville to consider.
He said Westminster's ordinance "has been working well."
Westminster's ordinance increased the number of plantings required for new homes from one per house to three. It requires businesses to re-landscape a whole site if they expand by more than 40 percent.
Jonathan Herman, a Town Council member who also sits on the planning commission, urged quick action on a new ordinance.
"We will be facing a big planting situation with the berms at Hawk Ridge Farm soon," said Mr. Herman, referring to one of Sykesville's largest developments.
Mr. Ridgely said he would give the commission copies of the Westminster ordinance, along with recommended changes.