Hampstead developers protest growth proposals


Ordinances for controlling growth could be unfair to developers who already have received preliminary approval from the town, developers told the Hampstead Town Council at a public hearing last night.

But those approvals came from a town government that has been virtually replaced in the last four years, with a new majority since May that has vowed to put vigorous controls on growth.

The council heard comments last night on three ordinances it introduced in part to start putting those tighter controls on growth.

One ordinance would set criteria for boards to use in determining whether the town's public services could support a planned-unit development -- one that has different kinds of units such as single-family homes and condominiums.

Another one would add schools to the list of services that must be deemed adequate before a project could be approved.

The third one seeks to turn the Board of Zoning Appeals appointments into paid position. That would essentially require the resignation of member Gary Bauer.

State law prevents a person from holding two paid public offices, and Mr. Bauer is a school board member.

Before that, he was a town councilman.

Although that measure had drawn some controversy from some long-time town officials who see it as the new guard's attempt at a complete housecleaning, the previous two proposed ordinances drew the only comments last night.

John Maguire, a Westminster lawyer representing Charles Widerman, owner of the proposed Westwood Park development, said the new criteria could be unfairly applied.

The Westwood Park development has been before the town's zoning board for four years, and received preliminary approval in January.

"It isn't fair in this case, or any case, to bring that criteria up at the end," Mr. Maguire said.

Andrew Stone, another attorney affiliated with Westwood Development, asked that the town grandfather the Westwood Park project. Councilman Lawrence Hentz said it could be years before the final plans are in, and that an open-ended grandfathering agreement would be asking too much.

"If you want a grandfather, you need to put a sunset on that grandfather," Mr. Hentz said.

"I don't think that's an unreasonable suggestion," Mr. Stone said, but said he would have to consult with his clients about the time required.

The council was scheduled to vote on the ordinances late in the meeting.

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