Mt. Airy: New Traffic Circle Near Chick-Fil-A approved
Here are the top take-a-ways from the Mt. Airy Town Council Meeting on March 6, 2023. This update is provided by Citizens Against Mount Airy Overdevelopment(C.A.M.O). Their website and more information can be found here:
Takeaways from the March 6th, 2023 Town Council Meeting
· A bid to install the Traffic Circle on South Main Street near Chick-fil-A was approved for almost $1.6M.
o Councilman Domotor asked if this intersection was failing before Chik-fil-A.
- Answer: Yes-the Town’s 2016 MD 27 Corridor Study identified the intersection at Ridgeside Dr. and Main St. as a failing intersection. It is unclear why, if this was known in 2016, subsidizing part of the roundabout was not part of the Chick-Fil-A development deal.
· A consensus was made to make the Charter Amendments for Town employee Code of Conduct (2021-4) and Whistleblower protection (2021-5) ordinances instead of charter amendments.
o Both will be rewritten and reintroduced at a later council meeting.
o These modifications to Town law (and others yet to come) are intended to serve the best interests of the citizens and Town staff. These two in particular are very important because they provide protections for employees, considerations for a safety conscious work environment, and the freedom to raise issues without retribution.
· Council rejects blackout period for adopting new ordinances and charter amendments leading up to Town elections.
o 4 nay – 1 (Munder)
o The main goal of this ordinance, introduced by Councilman Munder, was to avoid mischief by Council members who may be running or not running. Budget decisions and amendments would not apply since budgets must be adopted in May.
o Councilman Domotor commented that it’s hard enough to pass things in the course of a year. He didn’t see value added to the process if adopted.
· Police station funding ordinance (2023-3) postponed to 2024 so it can be worked into the budget.
o 3 -2 (Domotor, Reed Nay)
o There was a lot of questioning and debating on this issue.
o Councilwoman Galletti indicated that the Council had just received the redline version that night.
o The Mayor and other Councilmembers acknowledged that the only way to fund major projects is to raise taxes or build houses.
o Councilman Domotor indicated that he had met with Town staff (to the surprise of some) and shared that they had prepared a memo proposing a tax increase. This is being worked on with Mayor Hushour.
o Mayor Hushour: “If you put us in a position where we have to fund a police station, then there’s a couple ways to get it done… I’m not going to increase the taxes, you (the Council) are. If you guys want to build a police station in that manner, that’s what we’re talking about… what we’re talking about is shifting money and putting ourselves at risk, at not having enough money to fund the things, the other things that we need to or yes, want to fund throughout the upcoming years.”
o Postponing gives the Mayor a chance to work through the budget and see what we have available.
· Despite a Planning Commission recommendation and signals of approval from the developer, MXU-CC ordinance amendment (2022-32) dies after not being seconded.
o Councilman Munder introduced an ordinance prohibiting vape shops, CBD dispensaries, liquor stores, and other types of businesses from MXU-CC.
o Currently, the only planned MXU-CC development is Greentree, which is next to a church and an existing residential neighborhood.
o There was confusion from some Councilmembers as to which version was supposed to be introduced and voted on.
o Councilmembers Reed and Poirier felt that this was targeted toward Greentree, even though these exclusions would be in place for any future project zoned MXU-CC.
- Note: MXU-CC is one of the town’s newer zones and is a MIX of Residential and Commercial property. Just like MXD (Mixed Use Development), the Town has little experience with this type of zoning so revisions should be expected as new needs and restrictions are realized.
o Councilwoman Reed questioned why these types of businesses were ok for South Main St., but not North Main St.
- Answer: Because South Main St. is zoned Community Commercial, NOT MXU-CC.
o Despite the applicant and owner approving of the changes, this Council did not approve protecting the existing residents and churches on North Main Steet near Greentree by simply excluding businesses that belong in an exclusively commercial district.
· Instead of voting on the Ordinance for Rehabilitation and Preservation of the Flat Iron Building (2023-4), Councilwoman Galletti made a motion to preserve the building and let the Flat Iron Task Force continue on their path.
o General motion (not the ordinance) passes 3-2 (Domotor, Reed Nay).
o Similar to the police station discussion, there was debate about passing a sweeping ordinance binding the town to an unknown amount of money for an unknown amount of time. This general motion makes it law for the Town to make an effort to preserve the Flat Iron building (which does not mandate full restoration).
· Workshop for Mayoral Powers charter amendment (2021-3) scheduled for 3/30/23 at 5:30pm.
o Councilman Munder made a motion to withdraw the amendment and reintroduce at a later date. No one seconded.
· Wellhead Protection Ordinance (2022-35) was introduced. It was discussed at the March Water & Sewer meeting. Next Water & Sewer meeting is 4/5/23.
· Note: Buffalo Road Annexation takes effect 3/23, assuming no referendum is sought.