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Growth is target of 2 bills


A "new guard" eager to exert more control on development introduced two more ordinances at a special Hampstead Town Council meeting Friday night.

It is highly unusual for town governments to meet on Friday nights, but it's the second time since the election in May that Hampstead's council has done so.

Newly elected Mayor Christopher M. Nevin said the council wanted to hold discussions on the ordinances before public hearings later this month and to give town employees time to do the paperwork.

"We've got a lot to do, and Friday night just seemed to work for us," Mayor Nevin said.

The work the mayor referred to is a series of five ordinances proposed since May by new council members and Councilman Wayne Thomas. Until the election last month, he had been in the minority in his efforts to put tighter reins on development. But he had a vocal group of like-minded citizens, three of whom got elected in a landslide.

Friday, the council voted 3-0, with abstentions from Jacqueline Hyatt and Stephen A. Holland, to introduce an ordinance that would change the criteria for who could appeal zoning decisions to the appeals board.

The proposed change would allow any taxpayer to appeal a decision by the Planning and Zoning Commission to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Currently, the law says a person must be an aggrieved party, and past decisions by the appeals board have interpreted that to mean the party must be more aggrieved than the general public. That interpretation quashed an appeal of additional development North Carroll Farms, led by Mr. Holland and other town residents.

The other ordinance approved -- unanimously -- would require developers to provide water sources that meet standards in the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Developers already must provide sources of water, but the town has not required them to meet minimum safety standards, said Councilman Lawrence H. Hentz, who introduced it.

In other business Friday, the council approved the 1995-1996 budget, with a tax rate of 45 cents per $100 assessed valuation. The budget includes a 3 percent cost-of-living raise and 2 percent merit raise for town employees.

The votes Friday were part of the quick work on which the new council members and mayor have embarked, but the boldest moves were earlier last month.

Friday's two proposed ordinances join three others that were introduced at the first meeting of the newly elected council May 16. One seeks to turn the Board of Zoning Appeals appointments into paid ones. That would essentially require the resignation of member Gary Bauer. State law prevents someone from holding two paid public offices, and Mr. Bauer is a school board member. Before that, he was a councilman.

Mr. Hentz said he believed that the measure would prevent "stacking" boards. Mr. Bauer had been on the appeals board and the council, and Arthur Moler, defeated in his bid for re-election to the council, is on the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Ms. Hyatt opposed the measure, saying she believed in the volunteer spirit of such panels. She said the "stacking of like-minded individuals" still could go on if the positions were paid.

While the proposed ordinance could depose Mr. Bauer from the appeals board, the council already has voted, 4-1 with Ms. Hyatt dissenting, to remove Mr. Moler and William Drummond from the planning commission. The council members say the two men have neglected their duties to use existing laws to control development.

Another ordinance proposed last month would set criteria for boards to use in determining whether the town's public services could support building more homes, and the third would add schools to the list of services that must be deemed adequate.

Public hearings on the three ordinances proposed May 16 will begin at 7 p.m. June 13. Hearings on the two ordinances introduced Friday have not been scheduled.

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