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Hampstead budget keeps tax rate same; elimination of crossing guards protested

The Hampstead Town Council has approved a balanced budget that will keep the property tax rate at 20 cents per $100 of assessed value next fiscal year.

The only objection to the budget was the elimination of one $10,000 item: crossing guards at Spring Garden Elementary School.

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Before the public hearing on the $1.9 million budget Tuesday night, the council received a petition with 207 signatures asking the council to keep the crossing guards. The part-time positions were eliminated because Carroll County school officials decided to bus all elementary pupils next school year.

But children will be crossing to use the playground during the summer, said Cheryl Wahl of the Roberts Field Homeowners Association and a substitute crossing guard. She suggested adding stop signs at Whetstone Court and Boxwood Drive to slow traffic.

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The mayor and council members discussed adding two stop signs to the intersection in front of the school, or a flashing traffic light. They will consider the additions next month. Mayor Haven N. Shoemaker Jr. noted that the stop signs likely would draw complaints from commuters.

No money was allocated for the town's swimming pool, which was closed earlier this year when Town Council decided to not spend the $150,000 needed for repairs. A citizens committee has been formed to try to reopen the facility.

In other business, the mayor and council:

Announced the closing of the Town Tall tomorrow to honor former President Ronald Reagan.

Announced the State Highway Administration's approval of a left-turn signal, at least on weekday mornings, to assist traffic turning from Hampstead Mexico Road (Route 482) onto Panther Drive at North Carroll High School.

Announced Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s plan to attend a dedication ceremony at 4 p.m. Aug. 3 at the old Hampstead School on Main Street, which is scheduled to be transformed into apartments for seniors.

Introduced an ordinance to amend the town code to tighten security on its wells, towers, water mains and hydrants to protect the town water supply.

Introduced an ordinance that would add trees and vegetation to the improvements along public roads that property owners must maintain.

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Introduced an ordinance that would allow people to build attached rear decks that do not extend more than halfway into the required rear-yard depth.

Building such a deck now requires a zoning variance that is usually granted, said Town Manager Ken Decker. These constitute 80 percent to 90 percent of the 20 to 30 requests each year for such variances.


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