Town approves zoning changes
Thurmont officials approved two amendments to its zoning ordinances last
week, making it easier for Weis Markets to build a new grocery store in town.
At a town meeting Nov. 22, Thurmont's Board of Commissioners unanimously
approved changes in parking requirements and redefined requirements for
construction around streams in town.
Weis officials said the changes to the zoning ordinances will make it
possible to build a store behind the McDonald's at the south end of town,
hopefully in 2006.
The first zoning change reduces the number of parking spaces required for
freestanding commercial structures from five parking places per 1,000 square
feet of the store to four spaces per 1,000 square feet.
The other zoning change redefines the requirements for how close a building
may be to streams. An intermittent stream -- which usually runs only during
rain -- exists at the proposed grocery store site.
Because the grocery store site's stream does not meet any of the
requirements in the new ordinance, a buffer zone will not be required.
With the additional support of Frederick County Planner Jim Gugel, who was
at the meeting, the board agreed both changes were warranted.
Weis attorney Mark Lewis of Herbert, Rowland and Grubic, Inc., argued for
the changes because they would make it possible for the grocery chain to
continue planning the store.
He said the company tracked parking uses at some of the stores during peak
shopping for the Fourth of July and during the end-of-the-year holidays. There
were just over two places per 1,000 square feet used at the heaviest times,
according to their statistics. The new four-space minimum was derived by taking
the average number of parking spaces, adding a buffer and then rounding up,
Mayor Martin Burns agreed parking requirements need to be adjusted.
Commissioner Bill Blakeslee said Weis made a similar, but more detailed,
presentation to the town's planning commission, which is why that commission
recommended approval of the changes.