Residents Complain Of Manchester's 'Monster Plan'

January 16, 1991|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

MANCHESTER — Some have called the proposed master plan for this small North Carroll town irresponsible.

Some have called it outrageous.

And some have called it unfair and unworkable.

But, as far as Walnut Street resident George Huppman is concerned, a far more appropriate word applies to the 86-page document.

"The master plan should be called the 'monster plan,' " the former Towson resident told thealmost 130 people who attended last night's public hearing at the Manchester Elementary School on York Street. "It represents the sellingout of Manchester to developers."

The 2 -hour meeting was the second hearing on the master plan, a plan written by the county PlanningOffice over the course of three years.

And while only 14 people testified to a panel including the mayor, the Town Council and the County Commissioners, most in the audience were here last night to, onceagain, complain about a Route 30 bypass and a rezoning scheme that would allow for more development.

But for all of the complaining, last night's affair was a quieter, gentler version of the plan's firsthearing nine months ago.

"It's pretty much as I expected," said Commissioner Vice President Elmer C. Lippy Jr., the former mayor. "I am a bit surprised at the lack of fire, however."

The lack of fire may have been caused because the issues presented in the master plan are the same issues that have been discussed here for years.

"It seems that some of the same issues are coming up again," said Scott Fischer, the county planner who wrote the master plan. "Things, however, are a lot gentler than I expected. But trying to keep everybody happy is not an easy job."

And it's a job that is apparently not getting done.

The proposed bypass and the rest of the master plan "is going to cause a lot of agony for a lot of people," said Everett A. Feeser, a resident of the 2600 block of Hanover Pike in Hampstead.

Feeser appeared at the last public hearing, and, in late May, wrote to Fischer saying that the bypass was an "impending physical, social and environmental rape" of the town.

In addition to the bypass, several of those who spoke were concerned about zoning change proposals, some of which call for larger numbers of homes to be developed on less acres of land.

"My main concern is that we should take a step back," said John Timberman of the 3200 block of Main Street. "Hopefully, people who run the town will not allow high-density growth."

The people that run the town, however, endorse high-density growth.

"I think the public perception is all wrong," said Councilman Gerald H. Bollinger. "We've got to have high-density development to preserve our resources. People who think it is to placate developers have it wrong."

He and Mayor Earl A. J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. both said last night that the plan -- which must be approved by the Town Council and the County Commissioners before it takes effect -- is far from finished.

"The mayor and the council need to take a hard look at this," he said. "It's far from a done deal."

Tuesday night's hearing comes six months after it first was scheduled and years after the county and the town began discussing revisions to Manchester's master plan.

After a heated meeting in May that drew close to 200 angry residents, county and town planning officials had hoped to schedule a second -- and final -- public hearing on the plan in July. That meeting never was scheduled, and meeting dates in August, September, October and November all were set and then canceled.

Indeed, that November meeting's abrupt 24-hour cancellation notice didn't get to the more than 30 people who showed up at the school's doorsteps, only to be turned away by Fischer.

The plan will now be presented to the CountyCommissioners and then to the Town Council for approval. Should bothbodies approve the plan, it -- and all of its land-use policies -- will become binding.

While the town is the last of Carroll's eight municipalities without an intact master plan, residents here have been debating it -- and its controversial Route 30 bypass -- for close to 20 years now.

The bypass is by far the most controversial aspectof the town's proposed master plan. And the most recent draft of theplan is little changed from the one presented to residents at the May meeting.

Since that meeting, Fischer and the Carroll Planning and Zoning Commission have made slight adjustments to the bypass route,have re-evaluated the number of people expected to live in this 226-year-old town and have added an explanation of how the plan would affect landowners.

County and town officials have been pushing for the master plan because of a need to preserve land for the proposed bypass.

Fischer and other planning officials have said that if a bypass here ever is going to be built, approving it -- along with the whole master plan -- is crucial.

As it stands now, the proposed Route30 bypass is a five-mile stretch of roadway that meanders to the east of the busy commuter route. Such a bypass would require the destruction of 17 homes and part of the Manchester Baptist Church parking lot.

Bypasses here and several miles south in Hampstead have been discussed for decades, as Route 30 becomes an increasingly crowded commuter link -- with numerous fatalities -- between southern Pennsylvania and Baltimore. Hampstead's bypass, which was to be under way late next year, has been frozen indefinitely, as State Highway Administration money for it has dried up.

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