Commissioner Donald I. Dell has provided Carroll County with rTC his vision for the future -- something his two colleagues have failed to do. He believes the county's future hinges on fostering business and industrial development in Finksburg with the help of two major public works projects -- extending Interstate 795 from Baltimore County into Carroll and building a waste-to-energy incinerator at the Northern Landfill.
Mr. Dell's plan doesn't conflict with his campaign slogan -- "Keep Carroll country" -- as much as it might seem. Extending I-795 makes a great deal of sense, particularly if it means not constructing other roads, such as the long-planned Hampstead-Manchester bypass. Growth along the interstate can be more easily controlled than along a state highway. If exits are limited to three, as Mr. Dell suggests, development could be clustered around the interchanges rather than spread out.
Building the interstate between Route 140 and Route 30 would also mean that development could be concentrated on the eastern side of Carroll County, as called for in the county's master plan. Considering existing development, it makes a great deal of sense to steer industrial, business and residential development away from farmland in the western portion of the county.
By building a waste-to-energy plant, Mr. Dell is attempting to solve three problems at once -- disposing of increasing amounts of solid waste, providing less expensive energy for industry and providing a means of disposing of treated waste water. Mr. Dell seems to have scored a hat trick, but several technical and political problems need to be overcome.
Technical problems include whether a waste water treatment facility can be located so close to Liberty Reservoir and whether a waste-to-energy plant can use treated waste water. The political problems may be even more daunting, however; considerable opposition exists to building an incinerator in Carroll County. Mr. Dell will have to convince skeptics that the alternatives are even less attractive.
Mr. Dell deserves credit for attempting to lay out a coherent long-range vision for the county. His proposal deserves a serious examination to determine if it represents the direction in which the county wants to go.