County and town officials take the next step in the arduous process of shaping Carroll's future Saturday at the second Town-County Partnership Conference.
The all-day session beginning at 9 a.m. at Carroll Community College will feature reports on infrastructure, affordable housing and agricultural preservation, presentations by two planning and development design experts and a discussion of police protection in the county. About 90 participants are expected.
The conference is a follow-up to the first summit between municipal and county leaders last December. That meeting was prompted by thelast Board of County Commissioners, which determined that cooperation from municipalities was necessary to implement the county's long-range plans for managing growth.
Decisions reached as a result of the 3-year-old "strategic planning" effort could affect residents many ways.
Those decisions could determine the type and density of housing available and, indirectly, its cost; whether agriculture will remain a viable industry and what financing options farmers will have topreserve land; what assistance and facilities must be provided to municipalities to enable them to accommodate growth, as outlined in thecounty master plan; and how police protection should be structured, including possibly creating a county force.
Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said one goal of the conference is to re-establish communication with volunteers who worked on original reports addressing the county's most pressing problems. Some of those volunteers, who made numerous recommendations involving innovative programs or new strategies, have said they are uncertain what has become of their work.
Gouge said continuing to improve relationships, which sometimes have been antagonistic, with town officials, also is a priority.
"I hope they go away inspired or enthused about the speakers and with the feeling that (the planning process) is moving forward and not standing still," she said.
Randall G. Arendt, director of planning and research at the University of Massachusetts' Center for Rural Massachusetts,
will be a featured speaker. Arendt has made presentations throughoutthe Northeast.
He often challenges the purpose and effectiveness of local zoning plans and suggests alternatives to conserve open space, farmland and natural resources, reduce sprawl and create residential "villages" that offer character and affordable homes.
The otherspeaker will be Chris Batten, a landscape architect who owns a Westminster land planning firm. He will speak about how traditional designs -- the standards by which old American towns and cities were developed -- can be employed in modern times.
The commissioners appointed citizen planning groups in 1988 after the county was compelled to impose a deferral on subdivision approvals because of severe school overcrowding. Committees were assigned to study educational facilities,development fees and emergency services, in addition to the conference topics.
Several municipal officials who were assigned to committees to work on the issues since the December meeting said little progress has been made during the interim. A second conference has been postponed several times this year.
To provide more structure for the often unwieldy process, the commissioners have set deadlines over the next nine months for reports and evaluations.