While the Crofton Civic Association prepares to commission a study looking at the pros and cons of municipal incorporation, a group representing residents living outside the special tax district are concerned about being left out of the process.
"The CCA hasn't included us lately," said Tom Hasbrouck, president of the Greater Crofton Council. "They are talking about incorporating. That's an important issue."
But CCA Town Manager Jordan Harding, in a meeting Tuesday night with the council, stressed the need to work together.
"If we want to maintain the quality of life we enjoy in this area, we are going tohave to fight for it," Harding said.
"We have to be vigilant about these things, or we might end up in a mess or confusion. Then things will be so bad you won't be able to get a car out of the area."
Harding said Tuesday that the study only will include areas inside a triangle bordered by routes 3, 424 and 450.
Hasbrouck said some communities, such as Crofton Commons, are in the triangle but not part of the special tax district. Those residents are members of the Greater Crofton Council.
"We would like to know what is going on," he said. "We want to make the sure the study does paint a valid picture. But if it's not going to affect us, we don't need to be a part of it."
He said the council has not taken any formal position on incorporation. "So far we don't know what ramifications it will have," Hasbrouck said.
"Does Crofton need to take such a step right now?" he said. "We need to make these decisions. It is important that we, as brother organizations, work together."
The civic association began to take aserious look at becoming a city or town three weeks ago.
Harding said Tuesday that the University of Maryland has agreed to study the issue for Crofton.
But before the university tells the association how much the study will cost, the association must come up with a list of parameters.
Incorporating would give Crofton -- a fast-growing community of 10,000 people -- the option of enacting local ordinances, controlling zoning and receiving state and federal money.
It also would allow the community to write its own laws, set up amayoral form of government, establish its own inspection agencies and acquire property through eminent domain.
Crofton, a special tax district bounded by routes 3, 424 and 450, already levies property taxes.
But the county regulates the tax, and any service the community provides, such as a police force, is supplemental to county amenities.
To become incorporated, the community must submit a petition with signatures from 25 percent of the residents and win County Council approval.
In evaluating whether or not Crofton should incorporate, the civic association must decide if there would be an adequate tax base to provide desired levels of service. Members also must see if becoming incorporated would make more state and federal money available.
To receive a portion of state highway funds, for example, a municipality must perform its own street maintenance. Crofton will have to decide if that is worth the additional money.
But Crofton could still rely on the county for such services as trash removal, roadmaintenance and fire protection.