Thursday, February 21, 2008
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Oakland MD 21550
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Delaware's Special Olympians To Compete In Md. Games At Wisp
Feb. 21, 2008
by Jon Buzby
Three years ago, Delaware's Special Olympics ski teams were all set to head to New Hampshire, to an area famous for world-class ski conditions, but a lack of snow forced the cancellation of those games. So, to avoid not having any place to compete after months of training, Delaware quickly turned to her bordering neighbor for help – Special Olympics Maryland.
Thirty-one skiers and several coaches and family members from Delaware will arrive at the Wisp this Sunday, Feb. 24, for the 2008 Special Olympics Maryland Winter Games. This will be Delaware's third consecutive trip to the games.
"We love the competition and the friendships that have evolved," said Coach Charlie Scrafford. "We have been welcomed with open arms, and that goes a long way."
The ski team will compete in Alpine (downhill) and Nordic (cross-country) skiing events. The fact that they are trekking six hours by bus in the dead of winter is amazing enough, but what makes this team even more special is that its members come from a state without a ski mountain and without any measurable snow accumulation so far this winter.
Starting the first weekend in December, the Alpine ski team meets every Sunday morning at 5 a.m. to catch a bus to Blue Mountain in the Pocono Mountain Region of Pennsylvania. The four-hour drive is long and tedious, but the sight of the snow-covered mountains when they arrive makes it all worthwhile.
Scrafford says the training time on the mountain is very important.
"Since we are a state where the highest point is only about 76 feet above sea level, the trips to the mountain are critical for our training. In the early fall, before we start training on the mountain, we meet at a state park on a weekly basis and hike through the woods, going up and down hills to build our endurance. That way when we do get to the actual snow on the mountain, we can focus more on technique."
The Delaware team is typically the first to arrive at the mountain and spends the entire morning skiing. The skiers focus not only on the events they'll participate in at the games – downhill and slalom races – but also on other resort necessities like riding a ski lift, safety awareness, and of course, how to stay warm. They then grab a quick bite to eat and head back to Delaware, always arriving after dark.
The Nordic ski team trains at Brandywine Creek State Park, in the northernmost part of the state. Without snow, practices are spent focusing on technique, including the often overlooked skill of how to get up after you fall. A routine hike around the park at the beginning of each practice builds the necessary endurance for the longer events in which they'll participate, such as the 1-k, 3-k, and relay races.
On the few weekends when there is a light dusting of snow, which has been very rare the past few winters in Delaware, Nordic practices are longer and sometimes more often, much to the delight of the athletes and coaching staff.
"We practice the fundamentals, we drill constantly, and the athletes ski their individual races endlessly," said head coach Mike Gunton. "When we find a patch of snow, we practice sliding downhill on it until the snow is completely worn away.
"I am very proud of our skiers, for every one of them can ski well, with and without snow," he added.
"It is always very obvious during the competition that, although we don't have much snow in Delaware, our skiers are well-trained and prepared for any type of elements they will face on Wisp Mountain," said Mark Wise, director of training for Special Olympics Delaware. "This is a real credit to the coaching staff."
There will be hundreds of medals awarded throughout the competition. However, in keeping with Special Olympics tradition, it's not just the number of medals that will decide the success of the trip.
"I'll consider the trip a success and be happy if everyone does the best that he or she can, without any injuries," said Scrafford, before boarding the bus for the final training session of the season. "We have trained hard and the athletes are ready for the games. Of course, they all want to win medals, and I'm sure we'll take our share."
Ann Grunert, Special Olympics Delaware executive director, says that Delaware "owes a huge thanks" to Special Olympics Maryland.
"A few years ago we approached them about allowing our athletes to come compete in their games at the last minute," she said. "They not only enabled us to have a place to compete that year, but the staff and volunteers of Special Olympics Maryland, and the entire Wisp Mountain community, have made us feel like part of their family ever since. For that we are greatly appreciative."
At the Special Olympics Maryland Games, both teams will be part of an elaborate opening ceremony Sunday night, participate in time trials on Monday morning, and then compete through the end of the day Tuesday.
In the late afternoon Tuesday, both teams will join Maryland athletes and participate in the closing ceremonies before boarding the bus for the long drive back to Delaware.
It will be the end of a very long ski season, but the medals won and memories made will make the long trek home go by quickly (that and most everyone will be sound asleep for the entire ride).
Jon Buzby is the director of media relations for Special Olympics Delaware and a freelance writer. Persons may find more information online at www.sode.org.
Hearing Set For Garrett Co. Public Facilities Bond Bill
Feb. 21, 2008
A hearing has been scheduled in Annapolis for legislation that would allow the Garrett County commissioners to bond/finance up to $10 million for capital improvement projects. Introduced by Del. Wendell Beitzel, HB 1338 will be heard by the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 1 p.m.
The county commissioners and Financial Services director Wendy Yoder asked Beitzel and Sen. George Edwards during a December meeting to secure legislative authority in the General Assembly to enable the county to borrow funds.
"Over the next couple of fiscal years, we are facing a great amount of capital outlay, capital expenditures, particularly in 2009," Yoder told the local lawmakers.
The 2009 projects include a detention center, animal control center, public works facility, and a sewer system for the Keyser's Ridge Industrial Park.
The county can be classified as a "small issuer" under the Internal Revenue Service tax code, according to Yoder. This means the county will be eligible for the lowest possible interest rate, but the maximum amount that it can borrow is $10 million within a calendar year.
The county introduced a similar bond bill in 1998, allowing it to borrow up to $1.5 million for an economic development project.
The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee has not yet scheduled a hearing for the bond bill's companion, SB 754, introduced by Edwards.
Hearings for other bills introduced by Beitzel and Edwards include the following:
•HB 148 – "Tobacco Distribution to Minors" will be heard by the Economic Matters Committee on Monday, Feb. 25, at 2:30 p.m.
The proposed legislation would prohibit the distribution of certain tobacco products, cigarette rolling papers, and tobacco related coupons to minors in Garrett County. It would also outline new civil penalties for those who sell the products to minors.
•SB 223 – "Partnership Rental Housing Program Ownership of Rental Housing" will be heard by the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 1 p.m.
The bill would add certified housing develop-ment organizations to the list of entities that may own rental housing that is financed by the Partnership Rental Housing Program of the Department of Housing and Community Develop-ment. The purpose is to help provide housing for lower income residents.
•SB 260 – "Garrett Coun-ty Agriculture Districts" will be heard by the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 1 p.m.
This proposed legislation would enable the Garrett County commissioners to establish agricultural districts, and it outlines rules, regulations, and procedures of establishing those districts.
Persons wishing to testify on any bill must sign the witness register by 12:40 p.m. Those with written testimony are asked to submit 20 copies to the pertinent committee staff by noon for distribution prior to the hearing.
Beitzel may be contacted in Annapolis at 1-800-494-7122, ext. 3435. Edwards may be reached at that same number, ext. 3565.
Comprehensive Plan Meeting Set At Garrett College
Feb. 21, 2008
The Garrett County Planning Commission will hold an informational meeting on Monday, March 3, in the Garrett College auditorium, beginning at 7 p.m. to enable the public to review and comment on Chapters 5-11 of the new Comprehensive Development Plan draft.
These seven chapters are Chapter 5, "Water Resources Element"; Chapter 6, "Transportation Element"; Chapter 7, "Sensitive Areas Element"; Chapter 8, "Community Facilities Element"; Chapter 9, "Housing Element"; Chapter 10, "Mineral Resources Element"; and Chapter 11, "Economic Development Element."
The Planning Commission consultant, Environmental Resources Management (ERM), will provide a presentation on these chapters, and a question-and-comment period will be provided immediately following the presentation.
The Comprehensive Plan is the primary policy document used by the county to ensure healthy future growth and development. The plan is widely used and referred to by multiple state and county agencies, economic development offices, bond rating firms, the Planning Commission, and the Board of Appeals.
"Garrett County has experienced many changes since its last Comprehensive Plan was prepared in 1995, especially the rapid residential and commercial growth in and around Deep Creek Lake," said a Planning Commission spokesperson. "These changes have brought the county many opportunities but also many challenges. The new plan will look forward and establish new policies to guide the county through the year 2030 in areas including growth, development, rural preservation, transportation, and protection of environmentally sensitive areas."
A master plan for the Deep Creek Watershed Area is to be a major component of the new Comprehensive Plan, he added.
Chapter 6, 7, 8, 10, and 11 of the draft plan are currently available on the county's web site. Chapters 5 and 9 will be available beginning tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 22, and paper copies will be available in the Garrett County Department of Planning and Land Development office at the courthouse.
Interested parties may go to the county web site at garrettcounty.org and click on Chapters 6, 7, 8, 10, and 11 of the proposed Comprehensive Plan under "Events" on the county's homepage. Chapters 5 and 9 will be added to the same link by Feb. 22.
Further information may be obtained from the planning office at 301-334-1920.
Deep Creek Dunk Slated This Saturday
Feb. 21, 2008
The 10th annual Deep Creek Dunk will be held this Saturday, Feb. 23, behind Uno Restaurant, Deep Creek Lake. Registration is at noon, with the Dunk slated for 2 p.m.
Coordinated by the Maryland State Police and local law enforcement, proceeds from the event benefit Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD) athletes.
"The 10,000-plus athletes of SOMD represent the state's largest year-round organization devoted to sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities," said a Dunk spokesperson.
Pledges are still being accepted for the fundraiser. Interested persons may take the quick dip in Deep Creek Lake for a minimum of $50 in pledges. The event is free to spectators.
"Dunkers receive a commemorative sweatshirt, group color photograph, and the great feeling of freezing your 'fur' off for a truly worthy cause," said the spokesperson.
For more information, persons may visit somd.org, call 410-789-6677, ext. 503, or e-mail plunge@somd.-org.
Feb. 21, 2008
THE TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE MOON was actually visible in Garrett County last night, beginning around 8:30 or so and becoming totally covered and oddly red around 10. It was best to view it from inside, since the temperature was in the frigid single digits. So often the sky is socked in with clouds when these events take place, but last night was the exception, at least until about 10:15, at which time the sky filled up in what seemed a few minutes, and the snow came back. But the show was great while it lasted. The next one will occur in December 2010. In prehistoric days, such an event must have been terrifying to the people as they witnessed the "sentinel of the night sky" slowly swallowed in darkness, and finally turning red. With the weather that is expected tomorrow, snow and the dreaded ice, perhaps people would have believed that the frightening event was a harbinger of harrowing weather. Or maybe they all just slept through it. Photos and composite by John McEwen.
Feb. 21, 2008
SPECIAL OLYMPIANS/SPECIAL GUESTS – The state of Delaware has both Alpine and Nordic Winter Special Olympics ski teams; the only problem is, Delaware has no mountains and very little snow, making it next to impossible for organizers to host their own Olympics. So that's why the teams will be guests at the Wisp in McHenry this coming week, as a special invitation was issued to the team by Special Olympics Maryland to come participate in Maryland's winter events, slated to get under way Monday morning. Del-aware skiers pictured above, from left, are: Ashley Tieste, Brett Sammons (#122), Renee Kalokitis, Kelly McLain, Bruce Brown (#101), Dawn Flowers (#110), Kyle Gunton, Adriana Cairns (#102), Chris Truono, Gabby Linton, and Michael Linton.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008 - WBAL Radio as reported by Scott Wykoff and Associated Press
Two snowmobilers were injured when their sleds hit open water and sank in Deep Creek Lake, the Maryland Natural Resources Police said.
Four snowmobiles with eight occupants were traveling near the Route 219 Bridge on Deep Creek Lake at 12:10 a.m. Sunday.
A sled occupied by Matthew J. Laster, 26, and Anchi Pho, 27, both of Atlanta, sank in 35 feet of water, Cpl. Ken Turner of the DNR police said. Another snowmobile ridden by Brian M. Haskell, 17, of Baltimore and Alisha A. Laster, 17, of Woodlands, Texas, also sank near the same spot.
John M. Lancelotta, 40, of Westminster, who was also riding a snowmobile, was trying to help the people in the water when his sled sank.
Lancelotta and Pho were taken to Garrett County Memorial Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Turner said.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Stilwater enjoys a private & serene lakeside location in a peaceful cove of Deep Creek Lake. The shoreline boasts mature oak trees and offers ample shade & sunlight. A short hike or bike to nearby Deep Creek Lake State park, Stilwater is accessible to other Garrett County hotspots such as the Honi-Honi bar & Garrett 8 Cinemas.
Stilwater consists of 59 building sites on 64 +/- acres of mostly wooded property.Common areas, totaling 16 +/- acres, will promote permanent preservation of sensitive areas and provide lake access to 42 single family home sites.
The remaining 17 building offer 'hard to find', level frontage along the shores of Deep Creek Lake.
Stilwater Class 1 membership assigns 1 boat slip to Class 1 property owners.
Class 2 membership offer lake access amenities, but do not have use of a boat slip.
Community swimming pond.
Quiet cove of Deep Creek Lake offers truly 'Still Water'.
Mark your calendar for Oakland Main Street's Winter Fest, scheduled for March 1st and 2nd. The event will feature various ice sculptures sponsored by area businesses and organizations. Sponsorships are currently available, with a deadline of February 25th to secure your spot as a sponsor. For more information contact Jack Cougle at (301) 334-5095 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Feb. 14, 2008
NOT A TORNADO? Although no official determination was made or announced this week, photographic evidence of the weather events of Feb. 6 seem to indicate the possible touch-down of a tornado, or at least a "micro-burst," in Garrett County that evening. In this aerial photo of the Youghiogheny Mountain Resort (YMR) area, taken by Bob Browning, rows of large trees are shown clearly uprooted. Browning said from the air, it looked as if the powerful wind, or probable tornado, touched down at the northeast corner of the YMR, went across the Youghiogheny River, and over Oakland-Sang Run Road, and then touched down again near the Garrett County Airport, and again about three miles beyond the airport toward Grantsville. Browning took several photographs of severe damage to forestland throughout this area.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Zoning Only Way To Regulate Height Of Structures, Garrett Co. Official Says
Feb. 14, 2008
The only way to restrict the height of structures in Garrett County would be through zoning, Planning and Land Development director John Nelson told the county commissioners this week. Some residents have suggested that local officials could regulate the construction of wind turbines through height restrictions in the county's building ordinance. The commissioners met with Nelson on Tuesday to review the issue further. "I felt we needed to clarify that," said Commissioner Ernie Gregg. "Because the wind turbine opponents have misconstrued this, that we can apply a height ordinance and/or a building codes ordinance." Nelson said the authority for controlling height is a zoning regulation. "Article 66B [of the Annotated Code of Maryland] gives the authority to counties to adopt zoning, and zoning is the only mechanism to control heights," he said. Building codes, Nelson explained, will allow structures to be built to any height, as long as they meet the code's design and engineering requirements. "You could build a building 100 stories high, as long as the structural integrity is met under the building code," he said. To enact some type of height restriction would restrict the height of all types of structures being built in the county, such as hotels and communications towers, not just wind turbines, county officials said. They also noted that the county cannot enact a moratorium on wind turbine construction, as suggested by the Planning Commission last week. According to the county attorney, doing so would halt all local building projects. It is only through zoning that the county would have the authority to regulate heights, Nelson reiterated. "Under 66B, you can't choose a single use and attempt to regulate that use," he added. "It has to be a comprehensive zoning plan, where you apply zoning to all kinds of uses throughout the whole jurisdiction that you choose." Nelson noted, however, that zoning could be adopted "piece meal" by geological or political boundaries. Currently, the only area in Garrett County with zoning is the Deep Creek Lake watershed. Article 66B was used to adopt zoning in the watershed back in 1974, as residents in that area advocated for zoning. "It was always felt by the governing body [at that time] that if zoning were to be expanded beyond that geographical boundary, the citizens would need to illustrate or show the county commissioners that that citizens group supported zoning," Nelson said. He noted, however, counties cannot have exclusionary zoning, meaning they cannot exclude all types of uses. "You have to set aside and provide an area where uses, such as wind mills, would be permitted under certain parameters," Nelson said. He said it has been suggest that the zoning issue be placed on a referendum for voters to decide on a district by district basis, much like the Sunday alcohol sales issue. Nelson noted that citizen groups such as the board of realtors, chamber of commerce, and watershed associations would have to first demonstrate their support for the issue. "So far, our citizens have opposed countywide zoning," Glotfelty said, adding that the groups would indeed have to come forward and indicate their support to justify putting spot zoning on a referendum. "You start using that Z word, and people's hair starts standing up on end," he said.
The commissioners met with Nelson on Tuesday to review the issue further.
"I felt we needed to clarify that," said Commissioner Ernie Gregg. "Because the wind turbine opponents have misconstrued this, that we can apply a height ordinance and/or a building codes ordinance."
Nelson said the authority for controlling height is a zoning regulation. "Article 66B [of the Annotated Code of Maryland] gives the authority to counties to adopt zoning, and zoning is the only mechanism to control heights," he said.
Building codes, Nelson explained, will allow structures to be built to any height, as long as they meet the code's design and engineering requirements.
"You could build a building 100 stories high, as long as the structural integrity is met under the building code," he said.
To enact some type of height restriction would restrict the height of all types of structures being built in the county, such as hotels and communications towers, not just wind turbines, county officials said. They also noted that the county cannot enact a moratorium on wind turbine construction, as suggested by the Planning Commission last week. According to the county attorney, doing so would halt all local building projects.
It is only through zoning that the county would have the authority to regulate heights, Nelson reiterated.
"Under 66B, you can't choose a single use and attempt to regulate that use," he added. "It has to be a comprehensive zoning plan, where you apply zoning to all kinds of uses throughout the whole jurisdiction that you choose."
Nelson noted, however, that zoning could be adopted "piece meal" by geological or political boundaries. Currently, the only area in Garrett County with zoning is the Deep Creek Lake watershed. Article 66B was used to adopt zoning in the watershed back in 1974, as residents in that area advocated for zoning.
"It was always felt by the governing body [at that time] that if zoning were to be expanded beyond that geographical boundary, the citizens would need to illustrate or show the county commissioners that that citizens group supported zoning," Nelson said.
He noted, however, counties cannot have exclusionary zoning, meaning they cannot exclude all types of uses.
"You have to set aside and provide an area where uses, such as wind mills, would be permitted under certain parameters," Nelson said.
He said it has been suggest that the zoning issue be placed on a referendum for voters to decide on a district by district basis, much like the Sunday alcohol sales issue. Nelson noted that citizen groups such as the board of realtors, chamber of commerce, and watershed associations would have to first demonstrate their support for the issue.
"So far, our citizens have opposed countywide zoning," Glotfelty said, adding that the groups would indeed have to come forward and indicate their support to justify putting spot zoning on a referendum.
"You start using that Z word, and people's hair starts standing up on end," he said.
Beitzel Introduces "Share The Bear" Bill Once Again
Feb. 14, 2008
Del. Wendell R. Beitzel (R–Garrett and Allegany counties) introduced HB 762, "Natural Resources – Black Bears – Establishment of Population in Each County," this week in the Maryland General Assembly. The bill, which seeks to establish a bear population in each county in the state, is in response to Del. Barbara Frush's (D–Anne Arundel and Prince George's) filing of HB 657. Frush's bill seeks to classify the black bear as a non-game mammal and to put a moratorium on bear hunting in Maryland. A similar bill to Beitzel's HB 762 was originally introduced by then-Del. George C. Edwards in 2005. The Edwards bill was also in response to a bill submitted by Frush to ban bear hunting in Maryland. Edwards is now a senator in the General Assembly. Beitzel's bill will be heard in front of the House Environmental Matters Committee and has been scheduled for a hearing at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27. "Del. Frush and several of her colleagues do not want a bear hunt in Maryland," Beitzel said. "If they are successful in their efforts, then something must be done to control the bear population in western Maryland. My plan does just that. "Under my legislation, the Department of Natural Resources can distribute the bears throughout the rest of the state so that everyone can experience the 'joys' of living with bears," Beitzel said. The provisions of the his bill would require the DNR to capture bears that live in over-populated areas of western Maryland, and distribute them throughout the state. The DNR has determined that all counties in Maryland have locations that are suitable for bear habitat, according to Beitzel. "Many people who aren't from western Maryland think that bears are cute and friendly, but this isn't always the case," said Sen. Edwards. "There are nuisance bears that not only destroy property, but also potentially pose a serious threat to people and pets. We need to make sure that people down here know that it is essential to manage the bear population, whether it's by a hunt or the plan we presented." According to a report by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, 51 bears were taken during the 2007 bear hunt in Maryland. In addition to those bears, more than 40 bears were reported to have been hit by vehicles on the highway statewide. Until the 2004-2005 hunting season, a ban on hunting black bears had been in effect since 1953. The bear hunt has received national attention and has since been a source of controversy. During the most recent bear hunt, a black bear weight record was established for Maryland. Coty Jones, a 20-year-old woman from the state's Eastern Shore, harvested a black bear that weighed more than 600 pounds. "This bill is important to not only the people of Garrett and Allegany counties, but also should be a concern for those who genuinely have an interest in the preservation of the bear population in Maryland," Beitzel said about HB 762. He encourages anyone wanting more information on this subject to contact him in Annapolis at 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3435.
Frush's bill seeks to classify the black bear as a non-game mammal and to put a moratorium on bear hunting in Maryland.
A similar bill to Beitzel's HB 762 was originally introduced by then-Del. George C. Edwards in 2005. The Edwards bill was also in response to a bill submitted by Frush to ban bear hunting in Maryland. Edwards is now a senator in the General Assembly.
Beitzel's bill will be heard in front of the House Environmental Matters Committee and has been scheduled for a hearing at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27.
"Del. Frush and several of her colleagues do not want a bear hunt in Maryland," Beitzel said. "If they are successful in their efforts, then something must be done to control the bear population in western Maryland. My plan does just that.
"Under my legislation, the Department of Natural Resources can distribute the bears throughout the rest of the state so that everyone can experience the 'joys' of living with bears," Beitzel said.
The provisions of the his bill would require the DNR to capture bears that live in over-populated areas of western Maryland, and distribute them throughout the state. The DNR has determined that all counties in Maryland have locations that are suitable for bear habitat, according to Beitzel.
"Many people who aren't from western Maryland think that bears are cute and friendly, but this isn't always the case," said Sen. Edwards. "There are nuisance bears that not only destroy property, but also potentially pose a serious threat to people and pets. We need to make sure that people down here know that it is essential to manage the bear population, whether it's by a hunt or the plan we presented."
According to a report by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, 51 bears were taken during the 2007 bear hunt in Maryland. In addition to those bears, more than 40 bears were reported to have been hit by vehicles on the highway statewide.
Until the 2004-2005 hunting season, a ban on hunting black bears had been in effect since 1953. The bear hunt has received national attention and has since been a source of controversy.
During the most recent bear hunt, a black bear weight record was established for Maryland. Coty Jones, a 20-year-old woman from the state's Eastern Shore, harvested a black bear that weighed more than 600 pounds.
"This bill is important to not only the people of Garrett and Allegany counties, but also should be a concern for those who genuinely have an interest in the preservation of the bear population in Maryland," Beitzel said about HB 762.
He encourages anyone wanting more information on this subject to contact him in Annapolis at 1-800-492-7122, ext. 3435.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
OAKLAND - As zoning has been presented as the only option for preventing or limiting the construction of wind turbines in Garrett County, adopting zoning might be possible through a referendum vote in each district.
"Wind power opponents have felt we could enforce this, but we don't have the authority," Ernie Gregg, county commissioner, said during Tuesday's commission meeting.
John Nelson, director of planning and land development, explained that while the county has the authority to approve or deny projects through the building code, these decisions are based only on the safety and engineering of the structure, not height or appearance.
Nelson said that zoning regulations would allow restrictions to be placed, but that zoning that is not countywide can only be instituted by geographic region or by political district.
Jerry Plaugher of Deer Park asked why it wouldn't be possible for restrictions to be placed on the ridge tops to prevent the construction of the turbines.
Denny Glotfelty, commission chairman, said that such restrictions would also affect other industries, including communication towers, which haven't been an issue at this point in time.
Nelson added that zoning requires a comprehensive plan of the area to be zoned, and that would mean lumping together all the areas in the county with ridge tops as one group.
It had been suggested at a planning meeting last week that the commissioners approve a moratorium on development of wind turbines and that they pursue legislation to allow the county to have some form of authority over future projects. That suggestion was deemed impossible by the commissioners after consulting with the county attorney.
They said that a moratorium would require a halt on all building projects in the county and that without some form of zoning, no legislation would have any authority behind it.
The commissioners said they would be open to putting zoning up for a referendum, but only if there is a definite showing of support for the action. This would allow the zoning to be grouped by district as the Sunday alcohol sales have been.
Plaugher said he couldn't see that happening.
"Zoning, it's something that really rankles people," Plaugher said. "Zoning regulations start out very simple, but give them 20 years."
Contact Sarah Moses at email@example.com.
Deep Creek Highlands, located atop Marsh Mountain and surrounding Wisp Ski & Golf Resort, is a private gated community of Wisp Resort. Breathtaking lake views and lake access, extraordinary natural rock and boulder formations, hiking trails and wooded parks are just a part of the experience of living in the Highlands. Deep Creek Highlands homeowners and their guests enjoy two recreational parks-Mountaintop and Lakefront-featuring a playground, an outdoor swimming pool, a children's pool and two pavilions.
Of the 92 home sites, 24 have optional dedicated boat slips and 58 have lake access without boat slips.
Three classes of property ownership - some have water access privileges on Deep Creek Lake, others offer boat slips, while some lots do not share in these amenities.
Pavilion with fireplace.
Outdoor swimming pool and children's pool.
Hiking trails to lakefront common area.
Enclosed trash dumpsters with regular dumpster pick up.
Gated entrance to community.
Lakeside pavilion on the shores of Deep Creek Lake.
Close proximity to Wisp Ski & Golf Resort & Adventure Sports Center.
Deep Creek Highlands at Wisp Resort & Deep Creek Lake - I Love Deep Creek Blog
For more information about real estate for sale in this community, contact Jay Ferguson or call any of the numbers below:
Sunday, February 10, 2008
The signs are up and construction seems to be finished on the new building for Deep Creek Marina at Deep Creek Lake!
Make sure to contact Deep Creek Marina for all of your Deep Creek Lake boating and recreational needs! They have lots of great options for new and used boats, waverunners, ATV’s, snowmobiles, motorcycles and more! Check out their impressive new showroom on Garrett Highway & Deep Creek Drive in McHenry!
After turning on WKHJ in the morning on Thursday, I heard that a tornado (it was later determined to be a 'downburst') had touched down on Oakland Sang Run Rd from the storms the night before. It's not every day that this happens in Garrett County, so I jumped in my car to see what had happened.
It brought back memories for me, as some friends of mine and I had searched for remnants of a tornado many years earlier. I think it was 1999 or 2000, but a tornado had touched down near the Garrett County airport (among other places) and we were driving up to check on my friends airplane. When we got to the entrance fo the airport, there were 3 or 4 huge trees down, blocking the road. We climbed over the trees and walked up to the runway. Had I not seen this, I never would have believed it:
As we walked up to runway, there was a Cessna chained down to the asphalt. In the middle of the wing, there was a twig - not a stick or a branch - but a twig that had been 'pushed' through 2 feet or so of the fiberglass wing on the airplane. It was quite a sight, and it was inconveniently before time were digital cameras were prevalent, so I have no photos. Anyway, seeing that I have credentials as a day-after 'tornado chaser', I was anxious to see what happened near the Wisp Ski Resort.
As you can see from the photos, whatever it was was powerful enough to break off these mature trees near mid-trunk. Thankfully, the damage was not extensive and there were no major injuries, but it doesn't really compare to the fallout from the tornado in 1999/2000.
Officials revise Garrett hotel ordinance
OAKLAND — With the original proposal rejected by the Garrett County commissioners, a revised amendment to the hotel/motel ordinance has been approved by the county planning commission.
“In general, I think we had a very good plan put forth,” Troy Ellington, chairman of the planning commission, said. “But (John ‘Smiley’ Kessler) raised some good points.”
The proposal, which was established to more clearly define a hotel or motel room, was submitted to the commissioners on Jan. 8. The provisions of the amendment to the Deep Creek Lake Watershed zoning ordinance would have defined specifically those hotels that have kitchen areas inside.
After the planning commission originally submitted its proposed change to the ordinance, Kessler, who is currently developing Aqua Mountain Resort, an indoor waterpark hotel, submitted further questions concerning the proposed provisions.
Taking Kessler’s questions, the planning commission approved changes to the original submitted proposal.
One suggestion was to ensure that the definitions included “rooms and/or suites” rather than “rooms and suites.” Another was to clearly define a room key as something that grants access to the hotel room, not necessarily a traditional key.
Also altered after the planning meeting Wednesday was the provision that said any room more than 1,000 square feet would be considered a dwelling unit and would require a 4,800-foot lot for each room of that size. John Nelson, director of planning and land development, explained the original intention of this part of the plan was to limit the number of rooms that would have kitchen areas, not to limit the size of the room.
The board agreed that only if the room did possess a kitchen and was more than 1,000 square feet, it would be treated as a dwelling unit.
The final change was made to hotel or motel parking for employees to ensure there is a space for each full-time position, rather than full-time employee, as each position might have three employees who work on separate shifts.
Karen Myers of DC Development suggested the planning commission consider the same policy for restaurants, as they also are likely to have the same position, but with employees within that position on different shifts.
Ellington said that was something that would have to be done at a separate time.
“There has been a lot of hard work on (the changes),” Kevin Potter, owner of Point View Inn, said. “A lot of people put a lot of time in for Garrett County on this process.”
Contact Sarah Moses at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local housing market thriving
Area counties see increase in unit sales
CUMBERLAND — By no means is the sky falling when it comes to the real estate market locally, Melanie Pratt Dimaio said.
As president of the Historic Highlands Association of REALTORS Inc., she and Linda Pluta, the association’s chief executive officer, said they want to dispel the picture of a dying real estate market the media has portrayed over the last year.
“Real estate is localized,” Dimaio said. “What they’re saying in the news is not true for every state, every county, every market.”
Allegany and Garrett counties are holding strong and have been noted as a stable market in Maryland REALTOR magazine.
Dimaio points out that while the state is off 33 percent in unit sales, Allegany is “one of the lucky ones” with an increase of 8.9 percent from October 2006 to October 2007. It is one of eight areas in the state to experience an increase in average sales price with a boost of 8.7 percent.
Garrett fared better, with units sold at an increase of 23.7 percent, but had a 13.6 percent decrease in average sales price.
Each of the two counties is considered one of 12 outperforming counties in the state.
Tim Brinkman, a real estate agent and the association’s publicity chairman, told Dimaio the residential business market remains solid in Mineral County, W.Va. What’s taken a hit is the second-home resort market and raw land.
Part of the reason the market has remained stable locally is that a large increase in home prices hasn’t been seen. The average cost of a home in Allegany, according to Maryland REALTOR, is $125,586, the lowest in the state. The same house would cost $372,746 in Garrett and in Talbot County, which has the highest average price, $562,277.
“I think we’re one of the best-kept secrets in the state,” Dimaio, who has worked as a real estate agent for 15 years and currently is with Long & Foster, said.
She said a seller shouldn’t expect to get rich buying a home in Cumberland and selling it two years later, but on the flip side, one won’t “get burned” either.
Even though starter homes at less than $100,000 are available, Dimaio admits it is harder for a young, recently married couple to purchase a home here than it was two years ago. But it’s far worse in Hagerstown and Winchester, Va.
Pluta’s advice is those starting out should buy a small home, renovate it, hold onto it for about five years and then graduate to the next level.
She also has statistics dating back to 1986 regarding the housing market in Allegany County.
From May through December of that year, 173 homes were sold for an average cost of $45,062. The average price has increased steadily, with 2007 seeing an average of $114,809. The market peaked in 2005, with the number of sales reaching 834, but while those have since decreased to 601, the value of homes has increased.
Nationwide, it was a good year last year despite what’s been portrayed about the market, especially in light of the subprime loan crisis, Pluta, who has been the association’s CEO for 20 years, said. In fact, 2007 is the fifth highest on record for home sales with 5,652,000 existing-home sales, according to the National Association of REALTORS.
She also doesn’t expect to see such problems trickle down to the local market, in part, because over-inflated prices haven’t been prevalent.
“We’ve just been steady,” she said. “And we’ve gone through our ups and downs.”
Allegany County is being recognized nationally for its real estate market with the national association starting to profile it along with Hagerstown and Baltimore.
“Our real estate market is very strong when compared to the truly bleak performances of other real estate markets across the country,” Dimaio said. “Real estate has historically and will, in my opinion, continue to remain a sound overall long-term investment.
“People will always need a roof over their heads,” she continued. “They are not making anymore land. So, if you need a home, don’t be afraid to buy one.”
For more information about the Garrett County & Deep Creek Lake real estate market, log on to www.ilovedeepcreek.com.
GC Commissioners Oppose Placing Wind Turbines On State Property
Feb. 7, 2008
The Board of Garrett County Commissioners issued an official statement on Tuesday opposing the placement of wind turbines on state land in the county. The vote was unanimous.
Pennsylvania-based U.S. Wind Force recently asked Gov. Martin O'Malley for leases on about 400 acres in the Savage River and Potomac state forests. The private company wants to construct about 100 40-story tall wind turbines.
Commissioner Ernie Gregg said the board's vote was based on the public's strong outpouring of opposition to the proposal.
"Personally, I feel it's an inappropriate use of public lands," he added.
The county commissioners had deferred any official comment on the issue until the Department of Natural Resources conducted two public hearings, which were held last week in McHenry and Annapolis.
About 500 people attended the local event, and more than 200 were at the Annapolis hearing. The vast majority of those who spoke at both hearings were opposed to using public lands for private energy projects.
"I still support wind power, on the whole," said Commissioner Fred Holliday. "Nothing has changed my opinion on that."
But, he noted, public lands were for recreational use. He added that he supports management of state forests and did not feel that current logging practices would have the same effect as turbines.
Commissioner Denny Glotfelty said it was important to preserve public lands for the enjoyment of future generations.
"As for private property, there is no zoning [county-wide in Garrett County], and it's the private property owners' decision," he said about the construction of wind turbines.
Director John Nelson, Department of Planning and Land Development, indicated that the county may pursue legislation to regulate and license the use of wind energy in the county. But, he quickly added, the regulations could not be applied to state lands.
The commissioners informed O'Malley about their position in a letter on Tuesday. A copy was also sent to DNR Secretary John R. Griffin.
"We are aware that your administration has a strong interest in looking at alternatives to augment [and] increase the Maryland electric production," the commissioners wrote. "We believe that wind generation is a significant supplement to not only the state of Maryland's energy independence but also nationwide.
"Having said this, we are writing to voice our opposition to constructing wind turbines on state of Maryland property in Garrett and Allegany counties. The board of county commissioners has supported and will continue to support the construction of wind generation turbines by Clipper Windpower and Synergics Energy."
Those two companies have proposed projects for private lands in Garrett County.
"By far, the majority of public opinion received by this office and conveyed at both public hearings is in opposition to the construction of wind generation turbines on state land," the commissioners continued in their letter to the governor. "This opinion is shared by those parties who support wind energy on private property."
County administrator Monty Pagenhardt said the commissioners "took some heat" for not announcing their position on the state forest project earlier. The county attorney and other staff members had advised them to wait until after the hearings, Pagenhardt noted.
"I feel it was appropriate," said Director James Hinebaugh, Garrett County Department of Economic Development, about the commissioners' decision to defer their announcement. "They let the public process run its course. They allowed the proponents to have their day in court, so to speak."
In doing so, Hinebaugh added, the commissioners did not give into public pressure or attack the governor and state.
Glotfelty stressed the im-portance of keeping an open relationship with the governor and DNR secretary.
"We have to work with them," he said.
Gregg said it is standard protocol to wait until after a public hearing is held before rendering an opinion on an issue. If the commissioners had presented an opinion before the hearings, Gregg said, they would have been accused of making up their minds before members of the public had a chance to present their views.
The DNR will accept comments about placing turbines on state land until March 3 at dnr.state.md.us.sustainability/wpm.
Secretary Griffin will review the public hearing and online comments and make a recommendation to O'Malley and the Maryland Board of Public Works, which is comprised of the governor, treasurer Nancy Kopp, and comptroller Peter Franchot.
"It's up to those three whether it goes or not," Holliday said about the turbine project.
Hearings Slated For Sunday Sales Referendum Bills
Feb. 7, 2008
Hearings are scheduled in Annapolis by Senate and House committees for a Garrett County Sunday sales referendum. Senate Bill 292 and House Bill 276 would enable Sunday sales of certain alcoholic beverages in districts in which a majority of voters approve.
The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee will hear public comment on SB 292, introduced by Sen. George Edwards, on Thursday, Feb. 14, at 1 p.m.
The House Economic Matters Committee will hold its hearing for HB 276, introduced by Del. Wendell Beitzel, on Monday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m.
Currently, only two of the county's 19 election districts, the Elbow and Avilton, have limited Sunday alcohol sales. Voters in those areas approved the issue in 1996.
Sunday alcohol sales are only permitted in those two districts from 1 until 10 p.m., and may be made only when a restaurant patron places an order for a meal simultaneously or prior to placing an order for an alcoholic beverages. Bars, liquor stores, and other businesses may not sell alcohol on Sundays in the two districts.
Should the General Assembly and governor approve SB 292/HB 276, the referendum will be presented to voters in the county's 17 other election districts on Nov. 4, during the general election.
If a majority of the votes cast in an election district are for the referred law, it will become effective in that election district on Dec. 15.
The same sales restrictions that are in place in Avilton and the Elbow would also apply to any new districts.
The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee will also hold a public hearing on SB 221 on Feb. 14. The bill would establish a Class B beer and light wine license in Garrett County, which could be issued to certain bona fide hotels, motels, inns, or restaurants.
Additionally, the House Environmental Matters Committee has scheduled a hearing for HB 314 on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 1 p.m. This proposed legislation would enable the Garrett County commissioners to establish agricultural districts, and it outlines rules, regulations, and procedures of establishing those districts.
Persons wishing to testify on any bill must sign the witness register by 12:40 p.m. Those with written testimony are asked to submit 20 copies to the pertinent committee staff by noon for distribution prior to the hearing.
Friday, February 8, 2008
First, a moth problem; now a myth problem
To the Editor:
In the early morning hours of Feb. 1, many Garrett County residents returned from the DNR meeting held in Annapolis feeling very proud that a vast majority of those commenting on the question: Is the installation of industrial wind turbines on state land a proper use of Maryland public lands? answered a resounding "NO."
About 200 attended the meeting held at the Arundel Center Thursday evening and 63 made public statements. Of those who spoke 56 opposed turbines on state land (namely on Backbone Mountain and Meadow Mountain ridges) while seven spoke in favor. There were 15 in opposition who did not reside in Garrett County.
Frank Maisano hired by the US Windforce argued that turbines, a source of clean energy, would increase tourism as people would be drawn to the area to view the 40 story high turbines. This caused somewhat of a derisive reaction from the audience who seemed opposed to that type of tourism. It was also stated that the visual blight would be no worse than that of the Wisp Ski Resort which lights up the Deep Creek Lake slopes.
Mike Tidwell of Chesapeake Climate Action Network spoke in favor because he believes that wind energy will be part of the solution to slow down global warming and would supply clean energy to Allegany and Garrett County.
The overwhelming majority however departed from these views with arguments ranging from aesthetics to wildlife, from wildlife diversity to energy effectiveness. The most stated reasons were that wind turbines while destroying the economic advantages Garrett County enjoys from tourism and various outdoor sports activities, including hunting, would deliver a disappointing amount of energy, as the wind blows inconsistently in this area and delivers only 30 percent efficiency levels.
Paul Fletcher stated humorously that in Garrett County "We had a moth problem; now we have a myth problem."
Moreover, the energy will be funneled out of state and will not supply Allegany or Garrett County with energy or remediate Maryland's forthcoming energy needs that will kick in by 2011 according to the Energy Administration.
Another negative stated by opponents was the destruction of forests that absorb carbon and provide habitat for a diversity of species of plants and animals. The fragmentation of public forests extending uninterrupted along the Appalachian ridges would adversely impact all of plant and wildlife even that existing around and not directly on the ridges and would be irreversible.
Statistics were quoted from European countries using wind energy about the decrease in property values of land owners living near the turbines. Mentioned also was the direct impact that huge turbines would have on New Germany State Park which is located next to Meadow Mountain. Turbine blades, a football field long, would spin over heads of the 30,000 annual visitors who come to that park to seek an oasis of natural tranquility.
Many creative solutions were proposed for meeting Maryland's future energy needs that would not involve the clear cutting of public lands. From both meetings in Annapolis and earlier in Garrett County, it is obvious that many groups and individuals stand opposed to the use of public lands for industrialized wind turbine plants.
Planning group's recommendations prove impossible
OAKLAND - Recommendations made by the Garrett County Planning Commission are not possible, according to the Garrett County commissioners, who say they will not pursue a moratorium on wind turbine development or legislation to provide regulation of the industry.
"A moratorium would (have to) be on all building construction, not just wind power," Monty Pagenhardt, county administrator, said. "They have to regulate everything. What the planning commission tried to suggest through some kind of legislation just can't be done outside of countywide zoning."
The commissioners sent out a statement saying that they looked into both suggestions made by the planning commission Wednesday, and that they were advised by legal counsel that neither the moratorium nor the legislation on wind turbine projects in the county would be possible.
Under the current county regulations, the moratorium would restrict all construction in the county and could not be targeted specifically at wind power, they said.
According to the statement released by the commissioners, under provisions of Article 66B of the Annotated Code of Maryland, the county must adopt and implement zoning regulations. Currently, the only portion of Garrett County with enforced zoning is that of the Deep Creek Lake watershed.
At this time, the county has not adopted any comprehensive land-use regulations.
"With no zoning, legislation doesn't come in," Denny Glotfelty, commission chairman, said. "There is nothing to follow through with anything on legislation. Without countywide zoning, that stuff's not possible."
Glotfelty said that if the people of the county decide to voice their opinions in favor of countywide zoning, he would support it, but at this point, it is the only option available to the commissioners.
He added that up to this point, the county commissioners had shown support for wind power in Garrett County, but that he viewed it as a matter of not having anything to enforce opposition to the turbines. He said that he felt it was best to support wind power as the county has "no control" over the placement of turbines in the county.
Pagenhardt added that at this point, the current board of commissioners has endorsed the two projects planned for the county on Backbone Mountain on private land.
The commissioners took a stance opposed to wind turbines on public land Tuesday, however, stating that such a use would be a waste of the state forest land.
Contact Sarah Moses at email@example.com.
Heavy winds blast area near Oakland Sang Run Road
MCHENRY - More than two miles of land on and near Oakland Sang Run Road were damaged in what is being called "a downburst" during a Wednesday night storm.
"We've had discussions with the (National) Weather Service and they are not convinced it was a tornado," Brad Frantz, Garrett County director of emergency management, said. "It could have been a very small cell that had some circular motion, but it doesn't appear to be that. The trees are knocked down in the same direction. This looks like more of a high wind."
Frantz said that there was no sign of major damage to the nearby homes; however, a Friendsville woman was injured when trees fell on her vehicle as she was traveling on Oakland Sang Run Road.
Following the 7 p.m. accident that led to Ashley Savage, 27, being transported to Garrett Memorial Hospital, Garrett County Roads workers began attempting to clear the roadway to make the area safe for travel. As of early Thursday afternoon, workers were still clearing the area of debris. The road did have one lane open.
According to Allen Fike, foreman with Garrett County Roads, they hoped to have the road cleared by the end of Thursday or by this morning.
Todd Meyers, spokesman for Allegheny Power, said that around 11 p.m. Wednesday, one pole was downed as were six spans of power line in the area of the downburst. By Thursday afternoon, those customers had power again. However, he said that nearby Youghiogheny Mountain Club was affected by the storm as well, and that it could be this morning before 25 customers there have electricity.
Richard Kane, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Pittsburgh office, said that it appears to have been a downburst of wind during the storm.
Kane said that the damage seems to be located in one spot and that trees were broken in the same direction and uprooted rather than in a circular fashion.
"The radar suggested it could have been a touch down," Kane said, "but none of the evidence really justified that. It was more damage from winds than a quick touch down."
Contact Sarah Moses at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Local Democrats Want Legislation To Protect Forests
Feb. 7, 2008
The Garrett County Democrativ Central Committee has requested Senator George Edwards and Delegate Wendell Beitzel to introduce local emergency legislation in the current General Assembly to prevent inappropriate use of state forests.
Letters sent February 3 and February 6 specifically requested each to introduce the legislation before February 7 to prohibit development, construction, or placement of wind turbines in state forests or parks in Garrett County. Bills introduced by February 7 are guaranteed a hearing in the General Assembly.
"In public hearings at Garrett College and in Annapolis, some 700 people attended to overwhelmingly express disapproval of using state forestland for industrial wind turbines," said James R. "Smokey" Stanton, chairman of the GCDCC. "Both of you (Edwards and Beitzel) attended these hearings and both of you have stated your opposition to wind turbines in state forests.
"The information, data, and comments provided by farmers, lumbermen, foresters, environmentalists, businesses, realtors, property owners, and interested citizens clearly established the inappropriateness of this use in state forests and state lands. It is imperative that you use your legislative power to permanently block this type of exploitation in order to protect both our state forest land and our lo-cal economy and tourist in-dustry."
Stanton said that by introducing local emergency legislation, two objectives can be achieved. "First, you will be extended the courtesy of hearings in both the Senate and the House," he said. "Second, by making the bills emergency, the effective date of the legislation will be July 1, 2008, instead of October 1, 2008. With the General Assembly ending in April, the Department of Natural Resources will know the legislative intent of preserving our state forests."
The letters further stated:"By introducing bills in both the Senate and the House, the excellent information that has been gathered and presented by people testifying at the DNR hearings can be made available to all members of the legislature, and future decisions can be based on facts rather than distortions and exaggerations concerning Maryland State Forests and Parks."
The committee noted that the Western Maryland Delegation recently withdrew its October 2007 letter to Governor O'Malley supporting US Wind Force's proposal, and the Garrett County commissioners unanimously voted Tuesday to oppose the proposal to allow state forestland in Garrett County to be used for wind farms.
GC Planning Commission Asks For Legislation, Moratorium On Turbines
Feb. 7, 2008
By unanimous vote, the Garrett County Planning Commission has decided to remove wording of county support for wind power from its comprehensive plan draft. In an 6-2 vote, the group also recommends that legislation be introduced that would give the county authority to regulate wind turbine.
Additionally, the commission members want the county commissioners to place a moratorium on wind turbine development in Garrett County.
Those decisions took place yesterday during the Planning Commission's regular monthly meeting at the courthouse. About 25 people attended the event, with several voicing concerns about how the proposed plan deals with wind turbines.
Some of the those same residents discussed the issue last week with the Garrett County commissioners, questioning why a paragraph about wind power needed to be included in the plan. They noted that the wording conflicted with the local Heritage Plan, which designates the entire county as a heritage resource.
The original paragraph in the comprehensive plan refers to a turbine project that has been proposed along the southern end of Backbone Mountain.
"While the county acknowledges the potential negative impacts of wind power facilities, it also recognizes the benefits, especially those related to clean, sustainable power generation, and the socioeconomic and fiscal benefits to the county," the paragraph reads. "On balance, the county supports wind pow-er at appropriate locations, provided any site-specific negative impacts can be mitigated."
The Planning Commission wants to remove that last line.
At their meeting last week, the county commissioners told the residents that the passage was needed because wind energy is a potential issue that needed to addressed. The commissioners were in Annapolis on Wednesday and were not able to attend the Planning Commission meeting.
The commissioners, however, issued the following statement this morning:
"The Board of County Commissioners has considered the public comments and recommendations of the Garrett County Planning Commission, specifically in relationship to the regulation of and a potential moratorium on windmills in the county. The Board of County Commissioners appreciates the role of the Planning Commission in addressing important planning functions and appreciates the advice that it receives from that commission.
"The Planning Commission has recommended the imposition of a moratorium on the location of windmills in Garrett County. A moratorium, under current county regulations, would require a moratorium on all building construction not simply the one area, wind power. The moratorium on all construction and the issuance of all building permits is, in the opinion of the Board of County Commissioners, not an appropriate remedy in these circumstances.
"The regulation of land use is a product of the power of the Board of County Commissioners to adopt and implement zoning regulations as a power delegated to the county by the state under the provisions of Article 66B of the Annotated Code of Maryland. Garrett County has accepted the delegation of power and regulates land use through the Deep Creek Watershed Zoning Ordinance in those areas within the watershed of Deep Creek Lake. Outside of that watershed and that zoning district, the county has not adopted comprehensive land use regulations through zoning.
"Land use in the state of Maryland has generally been administered on a local level. The Planning Commission fills one of the vital roles in the process of land use regulation. The im-plementation of or recommendation for additional legislation, as the Planning Commission has recommended, is a matter that requires greater study before requesting action by the legislature. As the Planning Commission understands, the regulation of land use under authority of Article 66B necessarily requires a comprehensive approach to all land use, not simply a single form of use such as wind power. It may be appropriate for the Planning Commission to consider the issue of comprehensive land use (countywide zoning) as a part of their role in local land regulations."
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Commissioners Questioned About Zoning Changes
Jan. 31, 2008
The Garrett County Planning Commission on Jan. 2 unanimously approved a proposal to amend several definitions in the Deep Creek Watershed Zoning Ordinance. That proposal was then presented the following week to the county commissioners, who expressed concerns about some changes.
Kevin Potter, owner of Point View Inn, asked the commissioners this week what their specific objections were to the amendment.
"It's my understanding then that the unanimous decision of the Planning Commission did not satisfy your requirements in this specific case," he told the commissioners.
The amendment would provide a new and more detailed definition for hotels and motels, according to Director John Nelson, Garrett County Department of Planning and Land Development. The intent is to establish parameters for the operation and management of hotels/motels and to specify the extent of kitchen facilities allowed within individuals rooms and suites.
Commissioner Denny Glotfelty told Potter there were concerns about the bedrooms, bathrooms, and size of the units. As presented by Nelson to the commissioners on Jan. 8, one definition in the proposed amendment reads, "Contain sleeping accommodations in each guest room or suite with not more than two separate bedrooms and not more than two bathrooms and may contain a kitchen or kitchenette. The maximum size of any guest room or suite shall not exceed 1,000 square feet."
Other definitions establish the length of occupancy for guests, provisions for registration and maid service, parking lot requirements, and signage.
"We've got to make sure we distinguish between motels and condos in someway," Glotfelty told Potter. "And we want to make sure we have that very clear when we do this for the future. It's not just for Point View; it's to take care of the future."
Point View Inn LLC plans to build a hotel with units containing kitchens. This project would not involve closing a portion of Deep Creek Drive, as previously proposed by the company. But the ordinance definitions must be redefined before Point View and other businesses can build hotel/motel units containing kitchens at Deep Creek Lake.
Potter asked Glotfelty about the status of the proposed amendment, noting that the Point View Inn project was now stalled.
"There were some other things brought up on it, and we're moving slow on it to make sure we get it right," Glotfelty said. "It will go back to the Planning Commission for them to review."
A public hearing must also be held before the commissioners can adopt the proposed amendment.
Potter asked Glotfelty if he had any personal or professional objections to the Point View project and/or its owners.
"I have none," Glotfelty said. "And I'm in nobody's hip pocket like I've been accused of, Kevin."