Good solution for southwest Carroll

July 15, 1993

Carroll County's Planning Commission is putting the final touches on its Southwest Plan, which may turn out to be a blueprint for the county's future growth because it outlines a way of preserving farms and allowing for future residential development.

There is a large impediment, however. One option in the plan calls for the creation of a village, which to some smacks of "social engineering."

The planning staff proposed creating an 1,100-acre village to be located around the intersection of Eden Mill Road and Route 97, a few miles west of Sykesville. The village would contain 2,640 homes, some stores and businesses and be about the same size as the long-established Union Bridge. The population density would be similar to that of Westminster, planners say. Much of the density would come from builders buying development rights from farmers in other parts of the county.

By creating such a "village," the plan would allow the smaller farms that have emerged in that part of the county to remain as they are.

A new rural residential zone would let developers create small subdivisions next to farms by combining large and smaller land parcels.

The plan thus would permit development, but it would maximize the amount of open space.

The idea of creating a village where one doesn't currently exist has disturbed a number of people. They complain the village will be artificial and force people to live together.

Critics of the proposal forget that towns such as New Windsor, Union Bridge and Eldersburg were all initially created from fields and woods.

Those towns, located on thoroughfares and later on railroad lines, started off as collections of shops, stables and taverns that grew larger over the years.

Just because this proposed village is being created in the last years of the 20th century rather than the 18th doesn't make it any more artificial than villages that were started two centuries ago.

A planned village would certainly be better than the unplanned sprawl that gobbles up open space and replaces it with non-descript houses on one-acre lots as in some unattractive suburbs in adjoining counties.

If the objective is to preserve the maximum amount of Carroll County's open space while allowing for some development, the proposed village may be the best solution.

We hope that the Planning Commission keeps this in mind as it considers this plan.

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