A proposed ordinance to alleviate parking problems in downtown Sykesville would require new businesses to contribute money to improve and expand existing space and buy land for more lots.
Town Manager Matthew Candland presented the draft ordinance to the Town Council on Monday. The meeting began late because three members were absent and there was no quorum.
The mayor arrived late with apologies and swore-in a new councilman, Russ Vreeland. He replaces Councilman Bill Hall, who resigned in July. Business could not proceed until Vreeland was officially appointed.
The parking crunch took up a major part of the meeting. Expanding businesses have no spaces for their employees or customers along downtown streets, Candland said.
"We have businesses fighting with tenants for spots," said Councilman Charlie Mullins.
Under the ordinance, new businesses would pay a fee - based on square footage - to a parking fund. The cost, which would be comparable to an impact fee for new development, has not been set.
"We have been talking for years, and we are going to run out of parking space downtown," said Mayor Jonathan S. Herman. "As the town grows and real estate becomes more valuable, we have to plan for parking."
Adequate parking is vital to Main Street businesses, said Councilman Michael H. Burgoyne.
"The fee concept makes sense," he said. "We can help Main Street and not hit taxpayers with 100 perM-W cent of the burden."
The council also authorized several expenditures:
* $17,000 to David H. Gleason Associates Inc., a Baltimore consultant that will write design guidelines for the Warfield buildings. The town expects to create an office complex in the century-old buildings, which were once part of Springfield Hospital Center.
* $12,000 to Reisterstown Lumber for 22 pairs of new shutters for the Town House. The cost includes painting and installation.
* $10,000 for improvements to the maintenance shed.
The council heard an enthusiastic annual report on the Gatehouse Museum from James N. Purman, archivist/curator. The museum, which opened three years ago, has drawn nearly 1,200 visitors in the past 12 months. With more than 40 volunteers, several of whom are children, the Gatehouse has been able to add a third day and Friday evenings to its weekly openings at no cost to the town.
"It would be impossible to accomplish this except for our volunteers," said Purman.