Owens takes first step into politics

Community involvement expands to include planning commission

Community involvement expands to include planning commission

July 13, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

FUNKSTOWN - Kenneth "Ed" Owens moved to Funkstown 31 years ago, more by chance than by choice. But that hasn't stopped him from taking an active role in his adopted community.

Owens recently signed on as a member of the town's planning commission.

"This is the first time I've ventured into politics," he said.

His interest was piqued because of his role in the town's fight to keep a large department-store chain from building along Edgewood Drive in 2001.

"We've only met once since I came on the commission," Owens said. "My position had been John Moore's until he died. No one could ever replace him, but I am filling his chair."


While the commission officially meets the first Tuesday of each month, it is convened only on an as-needed basis. The commission, which is to have eight members, is operating with seven.

The commission also is responsible for updating the town's comprehensive and zoning plans. The Maryland Office of Planning reviewed the most recent updates, which are expected to go before the Funkstown Mayor and Council.

"Public hearings will then begin," said Town Clerk Brenda Haynes.

As Owens understands his duties, the commission hears appeals first and gives its recommendation. Then the appeals board makes a ruling. Most of the cases involve residents who want to build closer to a neighboring property line than is allowed.

"We review all permits that are submitted," Owens said. "Sometimes with mediation, things can be worked out."

Owens, 69, lives across the street from the Funkstown Town Hall. He and his wife, Irene, were renting in Hagerstown when they learned of a house for sale in Funkstown and decided to become homeowners.

Known for its numerous downtown shops, Funkstown draws many tourists to the area who are coming and going from surrounding attractions in Washington County.

"There have been times when I am sitting in my home, the front door opens and someone will come in and ask how much something is," Owens said. "I tell them this is a home, not a shop. Actually I take it as a compliment."

Retired after 44 years with Potomac Edison (now Allegheny Energy), Owens spent much of his time involved with youth sports in the area.

"There was baseball and basketball when I was younger," Owens said.

For 23 years, he managed teams including the National Little League and coached junior football.

"A lot of those young people have come back and said I made a difference in their lives, like a father to them," Owens said.

In his spare time, Owens, along with his wife, found time to head up all the children's games at this year's town picnic. For his efforts, he was named the town's VIP this year.

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