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The Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners will receive an annual report from the town Planning Commission and will hold a public hearing on midyear budget amendments at this Monday’s town meeting.

During a work session Tuesday afternoon, Planning Director Carol Deibel said state law now requires the town board to formally accept the planning commission’s report.

The town is also, for the first time, required to list all ordinances and resolutions from last year that were in any way related to the state’s “smart growth” plan, she said.

In general, “our development activity is down, and I think that’s true pretty much everywhere,” she said.

The report also compares development between 2008 and 2009, shows all zoning activity, describes an implementation plan for the comprehensive zoning plan and features a map of development over time.

The report also gives the latest school utilization statistics for the town and county and a section devoted to transportation management issues. Other parts address historic preservation and land use.

Mayor Dave Carey said looking at the town 10 years ago makes one realize how much has changed.

“You forget, even in years where there’s not a lot happening ... it really is interesting to see how the town changes,” he said. Deibel said, “I think it’s very helpful and it does create a history of development in the town.”

Sewer rate increase

Also on the agenda for Monday’s town meeting, the commissioners will acknowledge an addendum to its 1988 county bulk sewer rate to the town.

Public Works Director Randy Robertson said the town received a new sewer user charge from the county, to cover collection and treatment of the town’s sewage.

The new bulk rate will be $2.81 per thousand gallons, more than the previous rate of $2.70, but Robertson said residents will not be affected for the time being.

“While we are getting an increase of 11 cents, it will not be reflected in any user rate,” he said.

Finance director Lisa Moody added the town is trying to “hold the line” on the sewer user rate paid by residents and businesses.

Town administrator Chris Schlehr said with any luck, the rate could even decrease next year.

“It’s happened before,” he said.

Group home update

During Tuesday’s work session, Carey commented on a letter recently sent from the Attorney General’s office to state Del. B. Daniel Riley advising that creating zoning standards for group homes would be illegal.

Bel Air’s commissioners have been urging the Harford County delegation to pass legislation regulating the density of group homes. Delegates were considering such a bill for the first time this year, but with the Attorney General’s warning led them to back off for now.

“At least we know we have taken this as far as we can. We actually got a bill drafted and had the lawyer look at it,” Carey said.

Commissioner Terry Hanley said the effort for state authority can be resurrected again next year, but Carey sounded less confident, saying the federal law would have to change for it to work.

Carey also said the town is looking into publishing its notices online instead of in The Aegis.

The town would refer newspaper readers to the town Web site, instead of listing the full notice there, as the county already does.

“We had a lot of interest in that,” Carey said. “People don’t learn what’s going on in town by reading the legal notices.”


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