An article in the Carroll County edition of The Sun on Monday incorrectly stated the position of the Greater Westminster Development Corp. on proposed zoning changes for the city's downtown business district. The nonprofit business group opposes zoning rules that would exclude package goods stores, amusement centers, small woodworking and metal shops and gas stations from the district. The Sun regrets the error.
Bad timing appears to pit Westminster city government against an entrepreneur with a plan for a downtown property. But City Council members say they're not targeting the businessman, and the businessman says he doesn't feel targeted.
The council is scheduled to hear comments from the public tonight on proposed zoning changes that would bar businesses, such as package goods stores, animal hospitals, veterinary clinics, small carpentry and sheet metal shops, car dealerships, circuses -- and gas stations -- from moving into the central business district.
The hearing is likely to attract a large turnout, including many of the citizens who heard Stanley H. "Jack" Tevis III outline plans last week for a gas station and small grocery store on the former Farmers Supply Co. property at Liberty and Green streets. The hearing is at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
"It's unfortunate that the timing has evolved the way it has, that this amendment comes up for debate at the time Jack is coming in with his project," said Councilman Damian L. Halstad.
Mr. Halstad and other elected officials pointed out that the hearing is about whether to eliminate numerous business uses as a way of shaping downtown's character, not about one property.
"Jack is so well thought of and respected -- he does a quality project -- that the temptation is to focus only on that project," Mr. Halstad said.
Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan noted that the zoning amendment has been working its way through drafts and reviews since February. Mr. Tevis' plan, "has been a proposal mainly in the media," and has not been submitted to the city, he said.
Mr. Tevis could lose the opportunity to build on the Farmers Supply Co. site if business district zoning is changed. He has city approval for a gas station and convenience store at Main and Carroll streets.
A consultant who analyzed the local market for city government in 1994 identified the Farmers Supply property as a key site. City officials have expressed hope for an office building or similar development that would bring large numbers of people downtown.
Mr. Tevis said he doesn't feel targeted by the proposed zoning changes.
"I feel that reasonable people can disagree," he said. "I wear my business hat, but also my GWDC [Greater Westminster Development Corp.] hat and my local resident hat."
Mr. Tevis is on the 30-member executive committee of GWDC, an organization of business owners. The organization supports some of the proposed changes, but opposes excluding package goods stores, adult entertainment centers, small woodworking and metal shops and gas stations.
Mr. Tevis said he wrestled with how to handle the conflict between his plans and GWDC's stance on the zoning changes. He said he did not attend two GWDC discussion sessions on the changes, "so people would be able to express their views without being uncomfortable."
He said he didn't tell GWDC members about his plans for the Farmers Supply property until June "because I didn't want it to be seen as a good old boy-good old girl network that just protects its own."
Mr. Tevis attended a GWDC meeting two weeks ago where the group voted on its stance on the zoning amendments. He said he attended because he was told he was needed to make a quorum. He abstained from voting.