Rising Sun looks to update zoning codes
— As the town prepares to lift its building moratorium, there is a move afoot to make sure loopholes and typos are fixed in the zoning code.
Calvin Bonenberger, Rising Sun town administrator, told the mayor and commissioners last week that they should consider getting the document straightened out now.
“Our zoning code is way out of whack,” he explained.
Part of the problem came from past efforts in which a contractor hired to perform the update borrowed codes from other towns.
“They did not bother to change the name of the community,” he said, noting there are also several references to “mayor and council” even though the town has commissioners.
There are also 10 zoning designations listed in the code but only seven appear on the town map.
Since the town hopes to attract new business, Bonenberger said there must be a discussion about signage.
“Nearly all the signs in the Rising Sun Towne Center don’t conform with our rules,” Bonenberger said. “We have sign regulations borrowed from other districts that are just not reasonable.”
For instance, Bonenberger said a business the size of Martin’s Food Store can only have a 3-by-3-foot sign.
“In the past they gave a variance. That’s not the way to do business,” he said.
This modernization should also reflect the new land development mindset, Bonenberger said.
“We’re still operating under principles dating back to the 1990s,” he said. “Land development is not the same as it was in 2000. This town has gone more than 15 years without updating its business principles.”
Bonenberger also pointed out that the town has been burned by bad development in the past. For example, correcting the shoddy connectors and paving work in Sunrise Estates along Ryan Drive has cost nearly $300,000.
Commissioner Allen Authenreath, who is in charge of streets and sidewalks, also pointed to unanticipated problems in Summer Hill.
“We had a lot of storm drains fail prematurely up there,” Authenreath said.
Fortunately the town public works department was able to replace some of those drains at a savings.
The board has been in conversation with officials from the Maryland Department of Planning for guidance on the revision process, which could include someone from MDP doing the work.
“We’re not sure if they are going to charge us for the service,” Bonenberger said.
The cost was $24,000 for the 2007 revision of the 201-page code. Authenreath added that KCI Engineering is also at the table.
“We’re hoping they can help. We’re looking at all the possible solutions,” he said.