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February 21, 2014

Amendments to Deep Creek zoning ordinance approved

OAKLAND — During a meeting on Tuesday, the Garrett County Commission voted to approve the Garrett County Planning Commission’s recommendation that amendments be made to the Table of Dimensional Requirements for Principal Uses of the Deep Creek Watershed Zoning Ordinance.

Commission chairman Robert Gatto made the motion to approve the planning commission’s recommendation and it was approved. An amendment was made to the table to add a commercial district under the column of Zoning District under the same row and block as town center district, according to Monty Pagenhardt, county administrator. An amendment was also made to the table to alter the types of uses that would qualify for reduced land areas within a shopping center; to properly align the column headings and minimum land area standards; and to strike certain provisions for other zoning districts and land areas.

That section will read as follows: “Retail use, service businesses and commercial recreational uses that are situated in shopping centers having a minimum land area of 1 acre. Only those retail, service and commercial recreational uses specified under this article as requiring a minimum land area of 10,000 sq. ft. in the TC (town center) and C (commercial) zoning districts, are subject to the reduced minimum land area per use afforded by this section.”

In July, the planning commission voted to recommend that county commissioners endorse William Meagher’s request to amend the Deep Creek Watershed Zoning Ordinance to add a new category of use for boat rentals not offering any services associated with a marina with certain modifications. The modifications include restricting boat rental use to the town center zoning district and that the use should only be permitted on lakefront properties with a minimum 200 feet measured at the Penelec line, irrespective of whether the lot is grandfathered in under the zoning ordinance, according to Pagenhardt.

Per Meagher’s request, boat rental usage would be permitted in the commercial and town center zoning districts; would be permitted by special exception in the town residential, commercial resort 1 and 2 zoning districts; and not permitted in any other zoning district. Boat rentals or sales would require a minimum land area of 10,000 square feet in any zoning district where permitted, except where the zoning ordinance requires 6,000 square feet per use and shopping centers.      

However, during the meeting Tuesday, with Gatto recusing himself, Commissioner Gregan Crawford made a motion to approve Meagher’s request including adding a new category of use for boat rentals including boat rides and/or boat tours as a separate service business and not offering any other services associated with a marina. Crawford’s motion died for lack of a second and therefore ended the pursuit and consideration of Meagher’s request for amendments to the zoning ordinance, according to Pagenhardt.

After final review of text amendments to the zoning ordinance, the commissioners discussed recreational uses of Deep Creek Lake and discussed the nature of zoning within the lake’s watershed. Commissioners raised the concept of special exceptions, according to Pagenhardt. Crawford then entered a motion to send the matter of text amendments back to the planning commission for consideration and review of context for potential use as a special exemption. Gatto and Crawford voted in favor of the motion and Commissioner Jim Raley voted against it.  

“Deep Creek Lake is a recreational area and given its nature is subject to competing demands,” says a position statement made by Crawford and Gatto. “The public has expressed concern that there has not been sufficient public discussion and consideration of issues relating to recreational uses and the board is simply responding to that concern and are asking the planning commission for their input, nothing more.”

The planning commission will now be charged with deciding whether to approve, disapprove or take no action and table the special exception.

“The special exception action approved by the board is now solely at the jurisdiction of the planning commission as to whether or not this commission would include such a use and whether or not they would take the subject under advisement,” says the statement.

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