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Commissioners take meetings on the road

July 11, 2007|By TAMELA BAKER

CLEAR SPRING - Now, coming to a municipality near you - it's the Washington County Commissioners.

In what County Administrator Gregory Murray calls an effort to be more accessible, the commissioners kicked off a series of evening meetings with local municipal governments Tuesday by traveling to Clear Spring, where they finished the day's agenda at the L.P. Snyder Memorial Library.

Their audience there included town officials, local residents and a spokesman for a conservation group from the other side of the county. Commissioner Terry Baker told the group he would like the commissioners to have these evening meetings "several times a year" so that more citizens could participate.

And those who did got a chance to see county government up close and personal. Several other county officials joined the commissioners, including Sheriff Doug Mullendore, whose presence caught Murray's attention.

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"I didn't know if you thought it was going to be a rowdy meeting," Murray teased.

Rowdy, no. But the audience seized the opportunity to let the commissioners know about their concerns, particularly in the areas of growth and preservation.

Former Clear Spring Mayor Betty Shank, who now serves on the county's Historical Advisory Committee, asked the commissioners to consider making a new survey of the county's historic sites.

"We do not know how many have disappeared," she said.

She also insisted that the county's municipalities be represented on the county's urban growth advisory committee, and asked that the county re-form its recycling committee - and consider mandatory recycling.

Commissioner James F. Kercheval assured Shank that the commissioners would seek advice from municipalities as they review urban growth areas.

Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire told the group he favored an ordinance that would grant more authority to prevent the loss of historic structures.

Jack Grier talked about both preservation and urban growth when he presented arguments on behalf of Beaver Creek residents opposed to a proposal to build a shopping center in the area. He urged the commissioners to deny an application to include the proposed property in the county's urban growth area.

But Aleshire explained that even if the commissioners deny the request, there are about 100 other acres in the area already included in the urban growth area that have had commercial zoning for years, and that property still could be developed.

Kercheval said after the meeting that it was "good to hear" what was on the residents' minds.

"It's important to have that education," he said. "We will put a lot of weight on what the town councils want."

While Murray said there were no real surprises at the Clear Spring meeting, "it's good for the commissioners to hear it from the individuals."

The commissioners will hit the road again July 31, when they meet in Hancock.

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