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From the Desk of
Town Commissioner Chris Staiger

(Oct, 2010) This year’s town elections are over and the Board will soon be reorganizing regardless of the outcome (which wasn’t known at the time of this writing). But this month, I’d just like to take the time to recap a few town government actions that have taken place over the last few meetings. Some you may have noticed more than others and they have all had varying levels of coverage in the local press.

At the September 7 meeting, the Board did vote to prohibit outdoor water use for sixty days due to the rapid decrease in groundwater resources. This has become an annual issue with well and reservoir levels beginning to drop every July as we experience recurrent low level drought conditions. There was some discussion of implementing a dawn to dusk outdoor watering ban as standard policy during the summer months. This would hopefully be an effective compromise that would still allow individuals to maintain their property but require them to do so in a much less wasteful manner.

I’ve written at least once over the summer concerning the Daughters of Charity proposal to establish low to moderate income senior housing at the Provincial House. The Daughters worked diligently (and patiently) to move their proposal forward through numerous meetings throughout the summer. The Open Space zone updates approved by the Board in September will allow the Daughters to pursue their project but have a) clearly defined the allowable density / number of units, and, b) kept the standards for development in line with those that already existed for similar development in the Residential zoning categories. There was value to the Town in supporting the Daughters’ effort to maintain the viability of the Provincial House while opening up an opportunity that may offer local jobs in construction and management, secure income based on sewer and water connection fees, and move a portion of the property onto the tax rolls. These changes may not offer the largest economic return on municipal assets, but I believe a majority of the Board felt these changes represented an acceptable balance of community and economic priorities in a difficult environment.

Emergency Management Planning for the town was advanced with the adoption of the ‘Countywide Hazard Mitigation Plan’ and the ‘Emmitsburg Emergency Operation Plan.’ These documents link the town with county and state agencies responsible for managing large scale disruptions to our daily lives. While this doesn’t mean we have barrels of crackers, cheese, and water in the basement of the town office, it does mean that all of the documentation has been completed and the chains of command and key responders have been identified so that mitigation efforts can take place as smoothly as possible - and that afterwards everyone is able to participate in any federal or state sponsored recovery programs. At the direction of the county, the town is already prepared to maintain critical operations such as the provision of sewer and water service for limited periods of time following a major disruption. As individual residents, we should all be responsible to make our own individual emergency preparations including supplies of food, water, batteries and other appropriate items for ourselves and our families. The ‘Maryland Natural Hazards Preparedness Guide’ is available on-line as an education resource.

The Board has also approved construction bids for new walking trails in Community Park and the repaving of East and West Lincoln Avenue. Both projects should be completed before the end of the year. The walking trail bid was $122,635.40 - roughly seventy-five percent funded by state and county grants. The cost to the town will be approximately $31,000. This trail effort has been led by Mayor Hoover for a number of years now and should increase outdoor opportunities for a wide number of people. The repaving of Lincoln Avenue was approved at $120,171.50 and is the final part of the greater sewer and water line rehabilitation project that began last spring. The entire project was funded through an $800,000 bond issue and $350,000 in grant money.

I heard a lot of good ideas from the commissioner candidates at the Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association forum at the Carriage House. Some are ideas the Board has discussed or attempted to pursue but just never managed to get our hands around. At our mid October meeting, I hope to review some of these goals and objectives in an effort to identify, pursue, and, most importantly, achieve some of these goals. I expect the town government to consider and adopt an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance over the next three to six months. In many ways this will complete our effort to recalibrate our development planning. Some development ordinances still need to be revised, but it should be time for a new major effort. For my own part, I believe this should be a more active partnership with our local business community – identifying their specific concerns while moving forward in a united effort to identify resources for advice and the economic development of the community. More on this as we move into winter! Sincerely, Chris Staiger


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