Keep Mt. Airy Small: Planning Commission to Address Several Impactful Ordinances This Week
This article brought to you by Citizens Against Mt. Airy Overdevelopment (C.A.M.O.).
Mixed Use Zoning, Open Space, Cold Storage Property, and Cannabis Businesses are on the agenda
The Mount Airy Planning Commission will meet Monday, July 31st at 7:30 PM in Town Hall at 110 S. Main St. This will be an important meeting as several impactful ordinances and requests are on the agenda. The public is welcome to attend in person and provide comments; the meeting will also be broadcast live on the Town’s Facebook page and CarrollMediaCenter.org
Topics to watch:
Beck Property: Pleasants Development is requesting that a public hearing be scheduled for the what is now being called “Mount Airy Crossing.” The public hearing is the next step in the process on the way to, what the developer hopes, is approval for the 492-home, 100K+ sq ft of commercial space development on the east and west sides of Rt. 27 adjacent to Watkins Park and Knill’s Farm.
Why it matters: The hearing could be scheduled as early as the end of August, which would not maximize public involvement as many Carroll County residents will be wrapping up summer vacations before school starts the following week.
What you can do: Show up to the Planning Commission meeting and/or contact your town representatives and ask them to schedule this at a time and date that will maximize public participation. The public needs adequate time to review the plan and prepare public comments.
3 Hill Street (Cold Storage Property): Wormald Companies is proposing re-development of the parcel as a 48-townhome community for senior citizens situated on 6.8 acres with an unconventional plan style.
Why it matters: The Cold Storage Property is currently zoned DTZ or Downtown Zone. This zoning does not allow what is currently being proposed. The developer is requesting SEVEN variances from existing town code; essentially asking for 7 exceptions to the rules. The town is in the middle of writing the next Master Plan, which is the perfect time to request rezoning. Should the town make multiple exceptions, therefore setting precedent, or would it make more sense to rezone the property?
What you can do: Show up to the Planning Commission meeting and/or contact your town representatives and let them know that the property owner should either request to rezone the property or build something here that complies with the town code.
Ordinance to change open space inadequacy waiver threshold for Mixed Use District (MXD) (2023-30): This ordinance would require that MXD developments provide 3 acres open space for every 100 new residents to qualify for a waiver of open space inadequacy.
Why it matters: The town is in an open space deficit of 80+ acres. Current code allows for a waiver of adequate open space requirements if an MXD development provides just 10% open space, which would increase the town’s deficit of open space. Passage of this ordinance will ensure MXD developments follow the same rules as other types of development in the town when it comes to open space.
Ordinance amending Mixed Use District (MXD) provisions related to open space (2023-32): This ordinance would change current MXD zoning by increasing required open space, restricting cannabis businesses in the zone, reducing allowable density, limiting the number of townhomes per row, and revising setback requirements.
Why it matters: MXD zoning code is relatively new to the town, having been adopted in 2020. It was written, in large part, by a Beck property developer. As such, MXD code strongly favors developer interests, allowing high density housing development with very little open space provided to mitigate such density. This ordinance seeks to update MXD code to better align with existing land uses in town.
Ordinance prohibiting on-site consumption of cannabis at an establishment that sells cannabis in Town (2023-35):
- Adds a new Chapter 50 to Town Code called “Cannabis”
- Limits the number of dispensary licenses that can be issued at any one time to two (2).
- Establishes hours of operation, distances the businesses can operate from schools, libraries, etc.
- Regulates both dispensaries and growing operations
Ordinance enacting zoning changes with respect to vape shops, cannabis businesses, and hemp businesses (2023-39):
- Prohibits additional vape shops in the Town and limits dispensaries to the CC district.
- Requires a cannabis/hemp business to obtain a special exception to operate in the CC district.
- Establishes hours of operation, distances the businesses can operate from schools, etc.
Why 2023-35 and 2023-39 matter: With the state’s passage of the Cannabis Reform Bill, the Town Council is proactively working to codify how to handle cannabis businesses in Town limits.
What you can do: Show up to the Planning Commission meeting on July 31st at 7:30 pm and/or contact your town representatives and let them know that you support these ordinances. The Planning Commission will be making recommendations on each of these ordinances (2023-30, 2023-32, 2023-35, 2023-39) before they go back to the Town Council for adoption.
Contact information for Town Council and the Planning Commission is available on our Contact page under “Contact the Town.”