More residents' input sought in planning growth Rural southwest Carroll under review SOUTHWEST -- Mount Airy * Woodbine * TAYLORSVILLE * WINFIELD

March 05, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Message from county planners to southwest Carroll residents: It's not too late to help draft plans to guide the next several years of growth in the largely rural but developing region.

"We want people to get involved -- all our meetings are open," said K. Marlene Conaway, assistant director of the county's Planning Department.

"Call the Planning Department and be put on our mailing list. We want you involved."

Hoping to stir interest in the plan, county staff sent letters last summer to some 3,000 households in the region. About 100 people attended a community meeting in August and about 150 showed up at another meeting in November.

The region, with a population of about 11,000, does not include Mount Airy.

The Planning Department, assisted by a local citizens advisory committee, is developing a comprehensive growth plan for the 50-square-mile region bounded by routes 97 and 26 and the Howard and Frederick county borders.

The planning office is working on recommendations for zoning changes for the region that could allow varied development and create more need for public facilities. County officials have envisioned a place with new crossroads villages, employment campus zones, clustered housing and special tax districts.

Some residents have objected to the concept of crossroads villages, fearful these communities could turn into places like Columbia in Howard County.

The county's goals could require changes in zoning, development regulations and financing practices. Those could include increasing housing densities in crossroads villages; making subdivision rules more flexible; paying for schools, roads and public utilities up front and requiring reimbursement from developers; and implementing a program that allows farmers to sell building lot rights to designated growth areas.

Southwest Carroll is being studied because of its rapid growth and the changing nature of farming. The study was assigned by the commissioners in 1991 after they denied rezoning of a 360-acre farm there.

Few residents initially came forward to serve on four subcommittees.

About 50 people now serve on the subcommittees, which are studying village concepts, recreation, the transfer of development rights and funding for public projects, such as water and sewer extensions. The committees meet weekly.

County officials said they want residents involved at the ground level to avoid the "nobody told us this was going on" syndrome that often comes up during the public hearing process.

"We are finding that more and more people are getting involved as we go along," said planner Gregg Horner. "It took a long time to get people interested. We'd like to have many people come to the meetings."

Ms. Conaway said the staff has approached community service groups about allowing county officials to give presentations or answer questions about the plan. So far, only the South Carroll Citizens Committee has asked Mr. Horner to speak, she said.

"We're frustrated because we want people to know what's going on," she said. "We're trying to find a way to make citizens aware that something is going on. They are responsible to know what's going on in their community."

Ms. Conaway said the advisory committee hopes to present a proposal to the county Planning and Zoning Commission in June. That board will hold public hearings before making a recommendation to the county commissioners, who also will hold public hearings.

The subcommittees are expected to make recommendations to the advisory committee by April.

Here's the status of each committee:

* The Southwest Carroll Recreation Subcommittee is working on maps that recommend a series of paths or trails for pedestrians and bicyclists that would connect proposed parks, recreation areas and existing villages like Taylorsville. The committee also is looking at recreational uses for the proposed site of the Gillis Falls reservoir and for a regional park. Meetings are at 7 p.m. Tuesdays at Mount Olive Church in Mount Airy.

* The Southwest Carroll TDR Subcommittee is looking at two scenarios regarding the transfer of development rights from farms. One of the scenarios, Mr. Horner said, would allow farmers to sell building lot rights to designated growth areas. Meetings are at 7 p.m. Tuesdays at South Carroll High School.

* The Southwest Carroll Funding Subcommittee is looking at ways to finance the extension of water and sewer lines into the region, the building of new schools and the relocation of Route 97. Meetings are at 7 p.m. Wednesdays at Mount Olive Church.

* The Southwest Carroll Village Subcommittee is designing village concepts and developing a zoning text that would drive ++ the creation of villages. Meetings are at 7 p.m. Thursdays at Mount Olive Church.

For more information, call the county Planning Department at 857-2145.

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