Town of Emmitsburg
300A S. Seton Ave Emmitsburg, Maryland

Planning Commission Minutes
Emmitsburg Town Office
May, 2004

Request to close Armstrong Lane

Public Comment:

  • Ms. Sandy Wormley stated that she was concerned the closure of Armstrong Lane would force the traffic onto neighboring Hoffman Lane creating a greater problem there.

  • Mr. Jim Wormley stated he agreed with Sandy Wormley's comments.

  • Mr. Kevin Shorb (applicant) described the commuter traffic flow through the Armstrong Lane as people cut between West Main Street and Frahley Road. He was concerned about the danger to children and would like to have the situation addressed before an incident happened. He commented that he would be willing to try increased signage, speed bumps, or additional speed enforcement prior to closure of Armstrong Lane.

  • Mr. Dave Martin stated that this type of issue has come up in the past and decisions were made to keep such routes open for due to safety concerns such as fire access. He suggested making the alternating alleys each one way noting that there is a problem with speeding and the amount of traffic. He agreed that closing one road would only drive the traffic to the other.

Commissioner Discussion:

Mr. Kapriva stated that it was probably not a good idea to shut down Armstrong Lane and that perhaps an assessment of the area should take place. Mr. Henry asked if access might be controlled based on the time of day. Mr. Lind commented that speed control would be a start. Commissioner Walbrecker recommended additional signage and speed bumps. Chairman Staiger commented that there seemed to be a consensus not to close Armstrong Lane but to initiate some sort actions to control the speed of those using the road. Mr. Kapriva then asked Mr. Shorb the predominant times when there is a problem. Mr. Shorb replied that the primary times were during the AM and PM commuting periods. Chairman Staiger called for a motion.

MOTION: by Commissioner Walbrecker not to recommend the closure of Armstrong Lane to the Mayor and Board of Commissioners but to increase speed enforcement at peak travel times, provide aggressive signage, and provide speed bumps for all three affected streets: Stoner, Hoffman, and Armstrong Lanes. The motion was seconded by Mr. Henry. Vote: 5-0 to approve the motion

Free Standing Sign in Village Zone - Review sign ordinance with recommendations to Mayor and Council

Mr. Kapriva asked if the existing ordinance applied only to commercial properties. Mr. Lucas responded that a home business would also be covered. Commissioner Walbrecker stated that the P&Z Commission which drafted the current ordinance envisioned signs hanging from buildings or houses as is currently common on Main Street. Chairman Staiger asked Mr. Lucas if a variance might be allowable due to the house being set back from the neighboring buildings. Mr. Lucas responded no.

Public Comment

  • Ms. Thelma Richardson commented that she believed a decision had already been decided on.

  • Mr. Harold Craig stated that signs were meant to be seen from the street and visible to automobile traffic so he supported a change. He believed the 35 foot set back requirement was arbitrary.

  • Ms. Lisa Elder, President of Chronicle Press at 107 South Seton Avenue, supported Ms. Richardson's free standing sign request claiming that one size does not fit all. She believed her own free standing sign request would be approved as a pre-existing sign that was grand-fathered in. If this was not the case, she would have the same issue as Ms. Richardson. Ms. Elder commented that the town seems to be encouraging additional businesses and asked if there was a way to change the ordinance or address different circumstances on a case by case basis.

Commissioner Discussion

Commissioner Walbrecker stated that the ordinance should not be site specific and that the intent was not to have advertising for vehicular traffic but for pedestrians on the street. She supported the staff recommendation not to recommend a change in the ordinance. Mr. Lind agreed with Commissioner Walbrecker and would support the staff recommendation. Mr. Henry stated he did not agree with the staff recommendation. Mr. Kapriva commented that the current ordinances appeared to be clear. Chairman Staiger asked Ms. Richardson to express any particular hardships she felt the current ordinances imposed. Ms. Richardson replied that a sign at her location in accordance with the current ordinance would not be seen. Chairman Staiger thanked Ms. Richardson and called for a motion. No motion was made by any commission member. Chairman Staiger asked Mr. Lucas the effect of the absence of a motion. Mr. Lucas responded that if there was no motion, there was no recommendation.

Comprehensive Plan - Continuing Review - Land Use

Commissioner Discussion

Commissioner Walbrecker and Chairman Staiger discussed setting a time for a separate, public workshop. Commissioner Walbrecker suggested June 12, 2004 from 10AM to 12PM. There was general agreement that this would be acceptable. The Commission declared its intent to review the first five policies listed on page 41 of the current Comprehensive Plan.

There followed some discussion concerning upcoming agenda items for the June 28, 2004 Meeting and how to ensure that Commission members received all materials relating to the upcoming meeting at least one week in advance.