Members of a new citizens committee formed to help the county strikea balance between mining company interests and quality of life for residents say they're approaching their work with open minds.
"I don't have any strong opinions one way or the other on the miningplan," said Georgia Hoff, a New Windsor resident and real estate agent. "I hope to do a good job by going into it without any preconceived notions."
Hoff is one of 10 residents appointed by the Planning Commission to serve on the Mineral Resource Committee to help draft a mineral mining plan for Carroll.
The committee will advise the county on how land around areas where mineral resources exist should be used.
All but two of the committee members have not been involved with the issue of mining in Wakefield Valley, a mineral-richregion between Westminster and New Windsor. They say they will absorb the information presented and work to develop a fair plan.
"I'm going to take a look at it and size up the pros and cons," saidJon Buck, a Sykesville businessman who ran in the Republican primaryfor county commissioner last year and lost.
One county commissioner and the spokesman for a coalition of citizens groups say more people who know about the issue and have been involved with previous studies should be on the committee.
Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said, "I have some concern that there are not enough people on that committee who are extremely knowledgeable about the issue. Most of them will be starting from ground zero."
In phone interviews with the 10 committee members, most said they are familiar with the issue only by reading about it in newspapers.
"I'm going to have to read up," said Jack E. Gray of Union Bridge, a retired fire chief.
David Duree, a spokesman for Network, a coalition of five community groups concerned primarily with environmental issues, said, "There's no question that having people on the committee who have been involved over the past years would help the finished product."
The process could be finished quicker if members of the Wakefield Valley Study Committee, which finished a 300-page report onthe issue last summer, and more representatives from the mining companies were on the committee, he said.
Planning Commission member Dennis P. Bowman said the panel wanted "a neutral committee" that would accept input from both sides.
After the County Commissioners expressed concern that the committee should have at least one representative from each group, the Planning Commission appointed Doris P. Pierce of the New Windsor Community Action Program and Frederick K. Teeter Sr., who's in industrial marketing at Genstar Stone Products Co., to the committee.
"We felt they could represent the two groups and still not have a domineering affect on the group,"Bowman said.
NEWCAP has lobbied for three years for long-range planning regarding mineral resources and protection of the environment. Genstar operates quarry pits on Medford Road and is planning an expansion in the area.
David H. Roush, plant manager at Lehigh Portland Cement Co., and William B. Dulany, an attorney for the Arundel Corp., said they believe the current committee can accomplishits goal.
K. Marlene Conaway, planning department bureau chief and chairperson of the committee, said it's more important for committee members to know the county's priorities and desires for the future than to be knowledgeable about mining.
The committee'sfirst meeting, which is open to the public, is at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at the County Extension Office.