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Smithsburg considers zoning changes

March 08, 2001

Smithsburg considers zoning changes



By ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

The Town of Smithsburg is considering a series of changes to its zoning ordinance, ranging from business definitions to the makeup of the Board of Appeals.

The number of zones would increase from three to six to let town officials better manage development.

Gregory White, chairman of the Planning Commission, said the changes would make the zoning ordinance more cohesive with the town's comprehensive plan.

Planning Commission members have worked on the changes for close to two years, said commission member Jim Brittain.

Kenneth V. Duncan of Water Street was the only resident to speak at a public meeting on the changes at the Town Hall Thursday evening.

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The change in the zone structure is the most significant of the proposed changes, Mayor Tommy Bowers said during a recent interview.

There currently are three zones: Town residential, town center and employment center. Under the new ordinance, three others would be added: Suburban residential, general commercial and neighborhood commercial.

"The town is learning from its past mistakes," Bowers said, declining to elaborate.

Dozens of business definitions are proposed in the amended ordinance, including amusement centers, bed and breakfast inns, convenience stores and halfway houses.

A kennel is defined as "more than three adult dogs kept or bred for hunting, sale, exhibition and/or domestic use."

There is a definition of adult bookstores, too. Bowers said it was not a reaction to any proposed shops. "They're not welcome," he said.

Among the other definitions, a panhandle lot is described as shaped like a "frying pan" or a "flag and staff."

Duncan, who owns the building where Rowland Auctioneering operates, pointed out that auctions are not covered in the zoning ordinance.

Other sections of the ordinance spell out requirements for building heights, setbacks, flood plains and signs. Bulletin boards in front of schools, churches and hospitals could be as big as 20 square feet, up from 12 square feet now.

The five-member Board of Appeals, which rules on zoning ordinance protests, would need three votes to pass a motion, instead of the current four.

The Planning Commission will discuss the proposal again next month before sending it to the Mayor and Town Council, Duncan said.

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