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Business district zoning studied; Town seeks to balance growth, resident needs


Trying to strike a balance between promoting new businesses and controlling traffic on East Baltimore Street, the Taneytown City Council will vote on two zoning ordinances tonight that would modify the downtown business district.

The council will vote on the ordinances after a public hearing at 7: 30 p.m.

The ordinances are in response to increasing interest from business owners and potential business owners who want to locate along the city's main corridor, said Chip Boyles, city manager.

"There's been a number of inquiries," Boyles said. "There are also existing variances allowing certain types of businesses in the residential area already. So the planning commission began reviewing this and felt, yes, there was a need to extend the district, but it should be restricted."

One ordinance would modify the central downtown zoning to a "local business district."

A variety of shops, professional offices, banks and grocery stores would continue to be allowed, but businesses such as gas stations and fast-food restaurants that would attract a high volume of traffic and serve customers in their vehicles would be prohibited. Banks would be permitted to have drive-up windows, Boyles said.

Other uses, such as converting a single-family detached house to a business or apartments or opening a child or adult day care center, would be considered by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The other ordinance would create a "restricted general business district" extending from downtown east to Fairground Avenue, along East Baltimore Street. This strip is zoned residential and has some low-volume businesses, such as hair salons and offices.

No drive-through businesses

The zoning designation could be applied to other areas, but those boundaries have not been determined, Boyles said.

As with downtown, no drive-through businesses, such as fast-food restaurants and gas stations, would be allowed.

This ordinance has stronger restrictions, including that no more than 5,000 square feet of any building could be used for business.

While the downtown ordinance says businesses there should be limited to "few objectionable influences for nearby neighbors," the intent of the restricted district is to allow "no objectionable impact on nearby residential areas."

The ordinances have been advertised and no opposition has been expressed, Boyles said.

Also tonight, the council will hear comments from barber Marvin Flickinger about a proposal to move the Police Department across the street from its current site to 16-18 E. Baltimore St.

Concerns about police move

Flickinger and other business owners located next to the proposed site have said moving the Police Department there would create a traffic hazard because of the limited view of traffic on a nearby one-way street. They also complain it would take metered parking away from in front of businesses.

The council is scheduled to vote on how to proceed with plans to alleviate crowding in the building used as the City Hall and police station.

City officials are trying to purchase the former city hall, across the street from the current one at 15-17 E. Baltimore St. The property at 16-18 E. Baltimore St. would double the 4,000 square feet shared by 11 city administrative staff members and the 10-member Police Department.

Boyles said he hopes the council will decide tonight how to proceed. The meeting will be held at City Hall.

Pub Date: 2/08/99

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