Taneytown council OKs flexible development bill; Ordinance will allow exceptions in projects


An ordinance approved last night by the Taneytown City Council will allow developers and planning boards more flexibility in designing developments with a mix of architectural styles and housing types.

The Community Village ordinance can be applied to existing housing developments, said Mayor Henry C. Heine. The ordinance keeps the existing zoning structure, but allows a developer to seek exceptions in a give-and-take process with the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Until now, a developer was limited in designing homes to exact specifications in the zoning laws, such as how deep the front yard can be and whether the units would be single-family, duplex or townhouses, Heine said.

The bill passed on a 4-0 vote, with one member absent.

"It's a very flexible ordinance," Heine said. "We wanted to have more creativity in our zoning. One of the things the developers have always told us is they'd like to be more creative, but zoning restricted them."

He said many newer developments have a "cookie cutter" look because all the houses are set back in a row, all the same number of feet from the street.

"When people talk about the charm of Taneytown, they're talking about downtown," Heine said. "If you take a look downtown, the houses are not all in a row."

The ordinance also would allow a mixture of housing types in one community, including single-family homes, townhouses, apartments and assisted living for seniors. The process would begin if a developer goes to the City Council to ask for flexibility in a particular project. If the council agrees that the land is appropriate for such flexibility, the developer would work with the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Once the council gives the initial go-ahead, the project does not have to come back to the council after the Planning and Zoning Commission has approved it.

In other business last night, the mayor and City Council also discussed the water ban. Heine said several people have called to ask that it be lifted because of the bountiful rain last month and this month.

But the rains don't immediately refill Taneytown's wells, which are seriously low, Heine said. The water ban probably won't be lifted until spring, he said, adding that towns and cities that rely on reservoirs can benefit from the rain, but wells take longer.

The city normally has water 68 feet below ground, he said. But it's now 175 feet below ground. Another 60 feet and the well would be useless, he said.

"We're just 60 feet away from no more well," Heine said.

The ban includes all outdoor watering of lawns and gardens, but that's not the big concern now, he said.

"The big thing is people want to wash their cars, and that is still prohibited," the mayor said.

Pub Date: 9/14/99

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