Cumberland Times-News

June 20, 2013

Proposed zoning change questioned

Some businesses would be allowed in residential areas

Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times-News

— FLINTSTONE — During a public hearing on Thursday at the Flintstone Volunteer Fire Department, Allegany County residents addressed their concerns about a zoning code change that would allow some businesses in residential areas

The amendment adds a special exception to the uses in General Urban Development, or G-1, districts, which would require the approval of the Board of Zoning Appeals and a hearing in which adjoining neighbors are notified via a large sign in the yard of the proposed business and a legal add in the newspaper, according to David Dorsey, acting planning coordinator.

The special exceptions include certain small-scale neighborhood uses and on-site signs and is limited to grocery stores, retail stores, greenhouse and nurseries, bakeries, barber shops, hair dressers, professional offices, restaurants, banks, printing shops and shops for sale or repair of appliances.

Residents voiced their concerns about the size of signage and how it would impact the neighborhood.  

 “My concern about this is the countywide impact,” said Cumberland resident Jackie Sams, who questioned what small-scale meant.

Sams also questioned how business in a residential area would impact traffic and what the setback requirements would be to homes nearby.

“I think there needs to be some type of a definition of what’s considered small-scale because a residential area will definitely be impacted by this,” said Sams. “I think it’s understandable that small business could be in a residential area but I think it also has to be at such a scale that it’s not going to be an imposition on the neighbors or impact their property values.”

Commission president Mike McKay asked Sams to provide the commission with a definition of small-scale.

An Oldtown resident questioned the size of the on-site signs. Dorsey said the signs would be located on the businesses’ property and billboards would not be allowed.   

 A property owner in a G-1 district who planned a Flintstone bakery suggested amending the text in the zoning ordinance and a draft of the law was introduced at a planning commission meeting earlier this month.

“The current regulations don’t allow business aside from home occupations in this district,” said Dorsey. “We looked at the different definitions of the zoning ordinance, especially the neighborhood commercial uses and picked the ones that seemed less intrusive for a residential neighborhood, like the G-1 district.”

In May, the planning commission voted to recommend that the commissioners approve the change to the text of the G-1 zoning district.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.