Southwest Carroll residents are invited to give their ideas tomorrownight about where and how development should occur in the area.
"It's important to get input from citizens in the community," said Frederick Goundry, chairman of the Mount Airy Planning Commission and a member of a citizens committee charged with writing a growth plan forthe area.
The committee has scheduled a meeting for 7 p.m. tomorrow in the auditorium at South Carroll High on Liberty Road in Winfield.
"It's a golden opportunity to make some creative decisions on how land should be used," Goundry said.
The citizens committee is examining a50-square-mile area bounded on the north by Liberty Road, on the east by Route 97, on the south by Howard County and the Mount Airy town line and on the west by Frederick County.
The group will explore environmental concerns, land-use issues, recreational facilities and transportation, said Gregg Horner, a county planner assisting the committee. The committee has been meeting biweekly since January, but this is the first meeting specifically to get public comment, he said. Committee members have not started writing the plan.
Because Southwest Carroll is "a high-growth area," the county commissioners wanted a citizens committee to look closely at the area where 11,000 people live, Horner said. Eight citizens were appointed by the commissionersand the Planning Commission.
Committee member Florence M. Breitenother, who owns a farm at Hoods Mill and Edens Mills roads, said she would like to see some of the agricultural land rezoned for higher-density residential use. She and her husband, Louis, bought their 92-acre farm when they were young and had hoped to sell it when they were ready to retire. They no longer can raise beef cattle, she said, because the farm is surrounded by houses.
"It definitely needs to be done," Breitenother said of rezoning. "A lot of things have changed sodrastically in the South Carroll area."
Committee member Roger E.Wolfe, who owns a tree farm on Fannie Dorsey Road, said he's concerned that more and more people commute out of the southern part of the county to work.
"More people, less job opportunities," he said.
Wolfe said he also is concerned about "preserving fairness for farmers who have really built Carroll County."
Farmers should be compensated fairly for their land, he said.
Committee member Robert M. Wolfing said he wants to see as much open space in the area as possible.
Carroll Earth Care treasurer Maureen M. Rice of Eldersburg plans to attend tomorrow's meeting and express some concerns of environmentalists. Instead of one-acre lots, she said she would like to see homes clustered on quarter-acre lots surrounded by open space and trees. This would improve property values and help the environment, she said.
"We accept development has to happen," Rice said, adding that open space would "cushion" it.
After tomorrow's meeting, the committee will begin forming goals to guide the plan, Horner said.
The area has many environmental restrictions, including tributaries that run into Piney Run, the Gillis Falls Reservoir area and many steep forested slopes, he said. The committee also must consider how the planwill affect Mount Airy, the Freedom area and Frederick and Howard counties, Horner said.