Westminster adopts six-year plan Zoning changes will allow commercial center, homes built on smaller lots


The Westminster Common Council unanimously voted yesterday to adopt the city's first comprehensive plan in 13 years.

Last night's vote clears the way for zoning changes that would allow creation of a 17-acre commercial center and construction of homes on quarter-acre lots on about 50 acres of the 130-acre Koontz farm.

The site, across from Western Maryland College at Route 140, is zoned residential and permits construction of homes on half-acre lots.

Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan and the five-member Common Council made few public comments on the comprehensive plan before adopting it yesterday. They had debated the merits of the plan, including the Koontz farm proposal, for more than five hours during two work sessions this month.

Developers Lawrence Macks and Martin K. P. Hill, who have requested rezoning a portion of Koontz farm, had asked city officials in January to include a 22-acre business zone at the farm in the comprehensive plan.

Such a zoning designation would have allowed a broad range of businesses -- from machine shops to hotels and restaurants -- at the site.

What the developers got instead was a smaller, more restricted commercial designation. The 17-acre commercial center is one of three sites being considered as possible "neighborhood convenience zones."

The other two sites are a 1.8-acre parcel behind Westminster Veterinary Hospital and a nearby 20-acre lot. Both are on Route 31.

Although details of the new land-use designation have not been worked out, the neighborhood convenience zones probably would ban large outlet stores and 24-hour operations, planning and zoning officials have said.

The developers' proposal does not say what kind of business might be established in the commercial center, said Thomas B. Beyard, the city's director of planning and public works. However, any development on the Koontz farm would involve the construction of roads to connect safely with Route 140. Those roads are outlined in the comprehensive plan.

The City of Westminster Comprehensive Plan 1998, the first in 13 years, resulted from more than a year's work by city planners and a six-member Citizen Advisory Committee. The plan will be in effect for six years.

In other business, the Common Council appointed a committee to examine the compensation package the city offers to municipal workers.

"I think we as a city need to have a handle on what the benefit costs will be from year to year," said Yowan, who requested that the committee be formed. He noted that the costs have been escalating in recent years.

Councilman Stephen R. Chapin Sr. will chair the committee, which is expected to report its findings to the Common Council by October.

Pub Date: 6/23/98

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