MOUNT AIRY — Growth doesn't have to erode an area's rural character, say members of a citizens group charged with developing compatible growth and land-use ideas for southwest Carroll.
Coming up with a blueprint for well-planned, orderly growth is the hard part, say members of the Southwest Carroll Citizens Advisory Committee.
"We've seen so many changes," said committee member Florence Breitenother, whose family lives on a 92-acre farm on Woodbine Road. "It's not a farming community any more."
The 11-member panel gathered Wednesday at the Mount Olive United Methodist Church to continue its task of generating growth recommendations for a 50-square-mile area of South Carroll.
The group was organized by the county commissioners last fall and plans to complete its work in December, suggesting ideas that will lead to orderly new development in the area, while maintaining traditional characteristics. The study area is bordered on the east by Route 97 and on the north by Route 26.
"Building can goon, and people can move into the county without wrecking it," said Greg Dorsey, a Carroll homebuilder who offered his thoughts to the committee.
County planners assisting the committee presented a slide show that illustrated the emerging juxtaposition of traditional images of rolling farmland and woods with more modern scenes of residential and commercial development in South Carroll.
"We're seeing an influx of the two lifestyles running side by side in more places," saidcounty planner Gregg Horner.
The area -- and much of Carroll, forthat matter -- has been transformed in recent years from a rural region distinguished primarily by large dairy farms, to a spreading patchwork of residential areas.
"There's a lot of change of land uses throughout this area," said K. Marlene Conaway, the county's assistant planning director. "The decrease of dairy farms has really been dramatic."
Some of the ideas suggested during Wednesday's brainstorming session include revising road standards to allow for roads that have a "country feel," particularly in developments. Such roads could be narrower and not be required to have curbs or gutters.
Subdivision lots can be configured to make better use of land and preserve more open space, and homes can be tailored to look more like traditionalfarmhouses, members said.
The committee's next meeting is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, at the church. Meetings are open to the public.