Planners from Poland visit Carroll Goal is to learn more about zoning

April 07, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Piotr Obraniak and Jerzy Lutomski stood outside the hangar at the Carroll County Regional Airport yesterday and surveyed the surrounding factories, office buildings and restaurant. They liked what they saw.

"We have factories right in our downtown," said Mr. Obraniak, a consultant who is helping the Polish city of Lodz develop a master plan. "It causes a lot of problems. People have concerns about pollution. I think we should divide industry and business from residential areas."

Mr. Obraniak and Mr. Lutomski, deputy director in the Lodz planning department, toured Carroll's business park near Westminster and the Roberts Field subdivision in Hampstead to learn more about zoning and land use.

They are in the midst of a monthlong visit to Baltimore as part of an exchange program between Poland and Maryland. They have come to Carroll County to learn how to create a zoning ordinance and an effective enforcement mechanism.

"What they're looking for are tools and ways to implement a master plan for the Lodz region -- where to locate businesses, homes, parks and set up new housing," said Michael Savino, a Baltimore zoning inspector who is coordinating the pair's visit. "They don't want to encourage homes next to industrial areas."

Lodz, a city in central Poland about the size of Baltimore, is at the crossroads of two planned trans-European highways -- one from Paris to Moscow and another from Stockholm to Athens.

"They're faced with the likelihood of growth," said J. Michael Evans, Carroll's director of general services, who was among the county officials who met with the Polish visitors. "We talked to them about the development process, zoning as an enforcement tool and the relationship between the county and its towns."

Mr. Savino said the master plan will address land use not only in Lodz but also in the surrounding province. Poland has some restrictions on land use, but has no zoning ordinance or enforcement mechanisms, he said.

"Zoning is the thing we are now trying to do," Mr. Obraniak said. "We are less restrictive than you are. We used to be more restrictive. But now maybe we give the people too much freedom."

Mr. Obraniak said he was impressed with the mix of land uses in and around Westminster. The surrounding area is not dissimilar to his own province, he said. But the Lodz area is more urbanized, he said. "We have ideas we can take back to Poland," he said. "This is very similar to the region around our city."

Mr. Obraniak, who joked that he learned English by listening to Bruce Springsteen, said he was impressed with Carroll's attempts to preserve agricultural land. He said Lodz -- a region known for potatoes and grains -- should attempt similar efforts.

Even so, his region is looking to develop surrounding land, Mr. Savino said. There are large tracts of land that could be developed, and Polish officials want to address the desires of developers but also the needs of local populations, he said.

"They are looking at ways to develop land outside the downtown area," Mr. Savino said. "Carroll has made long strides in doing the right thing in many instances. Carroll has been a model for others to see."

Besides visiting Carroll, the pair have toured Baltimore and a coal-burning power plant and have plans to meet with Annapolis and Harford County officials. They will return to Poland later this month.

"There's a lot of things here we can use," Mr. Lutomski said, referring to more than his visit to Carroll County. "We are very impressed with converting old factories into condos and houses. Because of the recession we have lots of nice, pretty factories standing empty."

Lodz, which grew as an industrial city after the turn of the century, is home to steel and textile factories, Mr. Obraniak said. He said the city is trying to attract retail businesses.

Mr. Lutomski will oversee zoning enforcement once a zoning ordinance is adopted in Lodz. Mr. Obraniak, who is a teaching assistant in the rural and urban sociology department at the University of Lodz, will help sell the master plan and zoning ordinance to elected officials and the public.

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