MANCHESTER — The council approved Wednesday the first comprehensive development plan for the municipality and its environs, a document that includes acontroversial proposed route for a Manchester bypass highway.
TheCounty Commissioners, who must approve the plan before it becomes the official blueprint for the town's future growth, had a work sessionon the plan Thursday. They discussed the proposed Route 30 bypass alignment and other growth-related issues, such as possible annexations, sewer capacity and school construction.
The commissioners are expected to vote on the plan at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday. Manchester, a North Carroll town of 2,689, is the only one of Carroll's eight municipalities -- and Finksburg -- that does not have an updated community growth and zoning plan.
A heated meeting to discuss the plan last May drew nearly 200 residents, many coming toobject to the inclusion of a Route 30 bypass proposed for the east of town.
They also expressed concern that the plan would promote growth that could overburden services and detract from Manchester's rural, small-town character.
A hearing on amendments took place in January, after several postponements.
Route 30 is a heavily traveled, two-lane highway connecting Hanover, Pa., to the Baltimore metropolitan area. Hampstead, several miles to Manchester's south, already has a Route 30 bypass route approved by the state. However, the state has frozen money for construction, originally slated for 1992.
The commissioners and Carroll's General Assembly delegation requested in 1989 that a Manchester bypass be reinstated in the state's highway construction program, after years of dissension on the issue within theManchester council. The project, which would connect to the Hampstead bypass, is low on the state's priority list and probably won't be constructed for many years.
County officials emphasized that a corridor must be protected from development to allow for a highway in thefuture. The proposed alignment would connect to the Hampstead bypassat Cape Horn Road and reunite with Route 30 just north of Lineboro Road. Twenty existing homes are in the proposed route's path.
"We can't guarantee that's where the road will be built," said Edmund R. "Ned" Cueman, county planning director. "The state may decide to do something else or use part of the corridor. But if we don't reserve something now, we'll keep creating more of a problem."
A previously proposed western alignment was rejected by the
town. Development later occurred in that region, making a western route prohibitive, said county planner J. Scott Fischer.
Fischer stressed that the plan does not open the door for more growth than existing zoning allows. In fact, it represents a slight decrease in population projections.
"It just shifts growth a little," he said. "It moves it more into the town in some areas. It's more logical to move it in tighter where it can be serviced by water and sewer, rather than extending it out further where it's more costly."
Areas zoned as "transitional" also were assigned specific designations, such as business, conservation or residential.
County planners decided not to change the zoning onthe Black Farm property, a 96-acre tract proposed for development atthe intersection of Route 30 and Lineboro Road.
The Manchester council is considering increasing the housing
density allowed on theparcel, as requested by the developer, but first must annex the landinto town. The county will wait until that is completed before it considers changing the comprehensive plan, said Fischer.