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From the Desk of
Town Commissioner Chris Staiger

(4/2013) Is there a season for groundhog? Punxsutawney Phil still has a few weeks to redeem himself, but March sure was a disappointment in terms of getting Spring started… All and all, I guess I shouldn’t complain - and just go ahead and siphon the gas from the snowblower to the lawnmower. Good advice for life (and politics) it seems!

Not a lot of major activity in town government in the month of March. A grant application was made to fund approximately half of the cost of construction drawings for the proposed town square redesign. Accurate plans which zero in on the true cost of the total project will certainly help in our efforts to obtain grants toward the current $575,000 construction estimate.

I was pleased to hear Mayor Don Briggs hold up the Carroll Creak Linear Park project in Frederick as an example at the March 18 town meeting. The Mayor touted the two thirds project funding that the City of Frederick received from outside sources. I would agree that this is a legitimate funding requirement for our project as well.

Meanwhile, we continue to await the final verdict of the State Highway Administration on key elements of our concept design – specifically the proposal to move back the crosswalks and traffic stopping points on East and West Main Street. This is a huge part of the overall concept since it dramatically opens up the space from a pedestrian and design standpoint.

Town staff will also begin to study traffic flow and road width requirements for the alley network north and south of Main Street. North / South connections via the smaller alleys will receive special attention. The Citizens Advisory Committee has also proposed making West Lincoln Avenue "one way" westbound from North Seton to School Lane – basically one way westbound behind the Ott House and the Fire Company.

The Board of Commissioners was still unable to agree on a process change related to filling a vacancy. No majority could be found to adopt any one of three basic proposals: a) continue as in the past with the Board appointing a replacement, or b) hold a special election, or c) leave the position vacant until the next Municipal election. Maybe this should be a ballot question at this Fall’s election??? I for one am opposed to the Board ‘picking a name from a hat’ and would prefer to leave the position vacant until the next regular election when the voters can decide for themselves.

The issue that has received the most press coverage recently concerns a request from a resident on West Main Street that the Board modify existing town ordinances so that residents are permitted to raise a small number of chickens at their home. I believe everyone agrees that this would be restricted to no more than four hens. Roosters would remain prohibited.

When making the original request about a month ago, the resident supplied a petition signed by over twenty others supporting the idea. The issue has been in the county press at least twice and been a topic of discussion at two town meetings. To date, I am not aware that anyone has weighed in against the proposal.

On March 18, the Board established a framework to allow the activity. This involves some input from the Planning Commission and the eventual preparation of ordinance changes to a couple areas of the current town code. I personally am leaning towards supporting the proposal – but with an eighteen month "sunset provision" that would force us to re-evaluate the change in the future. If, after the trial run, there were truly no issues, then the change could become permanent. The proof is in the pot pie, as they say…

As always, please keep an eye out for opportunities to contribute and don’t hesitate to share your opinions with your elected official by sending an e-mail to

Sincerely, Chris Staiger

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