Growth planning panel nears end of work Citizens committee reviews ways to pay for public projects SOUTHEAST--Mount Airy * Woodbine * Taylorsville * Winfield

June 04, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

The Southwest Carroll Citizens Advisory Committee, charged with helping the county plan for growth in that area, is expected to wrap up its work within the next two weeks.

The committee this week reviewed funding recommendations for future public works -- including water and sewer, schools, roads and recreation facilities -- for the 50-square-mile region bounded by routes 97 and 26, and the Howard and Frederick County borders. The region doesn't include Mount Airy, which is working on its own growth plan.

County planner Gregg Horner said the advisory committee will meet four more times to consider recommendations from other subcommittees. Two subcommittees, studying recreation and the transfer of development rights, have completed their work.

A subcommittee that is studying villages was expected to finish its recommendations last night, Mr. Horner said.

The citizens advisory committee will incorporate some -- if not all -- of the recommendations into a comprehensive plan to guide growth in the area over the next several years. Planners began studying the region in 1991 because of rapid growth and development.

Planners envision a region with new villages, employment campus zones and clustered housing. They also envision an area served by a new east-west corridor, a relocated Route 97, and greenways and paths connecting parks and recreation areas.

Mr. Horner said he expects to brief the county Planning and Zoning Commission on the advisory committee's final recommendations June 15. The recommendations will be formally presented to that board July 20, he said.

The planning commission will hold a public hearing on the plan before making recommendations to the county commissioners.

The commissioners are expected to hold a public hearing on the plan next fall.

Southwest Carroll's population, now about 11,000, is expected to grow by more than 15,000 over the next several years and place increased demands on water and sewer, schools, recreational facilities and roads.

To fund the necessary improvements, the funding subcommittee has recommended a variety of measures, including securing bonds for water and sewer improvements, the use of donated land for schools, state grants and volunteer efforts to build recreational facilities, and a "countywide" impact fee to relocate a portion of Route 97.

Mr. Horner described the subcommittee's funding recommendations as "the most in-depth" of any county comprehensive plan.

To build water and sewer facilities, the subcommittee has recommended that the county should secure a 20-year bond at the best available interest rates. The county would finance and provide water and sewer service, and charge residents and businesses annual fees.

The county could pursue two alternatives to service the area with sewers: Build a sewage treatment plant on the south branch of the Patapsco River or extend lines from the existing Freedom District plant in southeast Carroll.

To meet student enrollment growth, two more elementary schools will be needed in southwest Carroll, planners said. Already planned high school and middle schools in the county should meet enrollment demands in those grade levels, they said.

The subcommittee has recommended that the county should pay for all the schools "at the time they are needed," instead of waiting for state dollars to become available. The cost of building the elementary schools is estimated at $11 million. These new schools should be located within open space areas of planned villages on property donated by developers, the subcommittee said.

Committee member Mary Jo Murphy expressed reservations about building schools in designated open space areas. She said open space provides a healthy environment for those who live in high density subdivisions.

However, Mr. Horner said, placing schools in those areas provides additional benefits, such as facilities for community and recreational activities. Committee member Marie Wilson said most people who live in high density development want the schools there for those purposes.

In reviewing funding proposals for recreational improvements, several members of the advisory committee stressed the importance of using volunteers.

"I think the cost constraints being borne by local government is not changing, and I think in our overall plan we ought to encourage volunteerism," Ms. Murphy said.

Ms. Wilson said high school students who must perform community service to graduate could be used to help with proposed recreation projects.

Regarding the proposed relocation of Route 97, the subcommittee has recommended considering a countywide impact fee to fund the project. Mr. Horner said the relocation would benefit the entire county and would be an economic boon for Westminster.

"If the county doesn't do something to help the relocation, it just won't happen," Mr. Horner said.

He said commuter traffic along the road -- now at 5,000 vehicles a day -- is expected to double by 2010.

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