How to cope with Hampstead's rapid growth will be the overriding issue in Tuesday's municipal election there. In five years, the town's population has increased by more than a third to nearly 3,800 residents. The rapid growth has divided the town into two bitter factions. One group of townspeople believes the growth has been beneficial and well-managed, the other contends it has worsened Hampstead's quality of life.
Incumbent Mayor C. Clinton Becker, who presided over much of the recent growth, is up for re-election. To many residents, Mr. Becker, a financial analyst with Bell Atlantic, has done a commendable job. Critics, however, insist that he has been too sympathetic to development interests, particularly well-known Carroll builder Martin K. P. Hill. They believe Mr. Becker has not exercised enough control over the pace of development and has too often invoked the excuse that crowded schools and congested roads are county issues beyond his control.
He is opposed by Christopher Nevin, who sits on the Planning and Zoning Committee. Although Hampstead has no legal authority over schools or roads, Mr. Nevin, a Provident Bank vice president, would like the town to invoke its adequate facilities law to deny approvals for further construction until the county builds the necessary infrastructure. Mr. Nevin has been a thoughtful, constructive presence on the planning commission and deserves a chance to use those skills as mayor.
Meanwhile, six candidates are running for two open council seats. Incumbent Arthur H. Moler has been a divisive force on the council and planning commission, displaying unnecessary hostility toward witnesses who disagree with his positions. Elizabeth Hall, who works at Spring Garden Elementary, has campaigned on building a recreation center. Greg Jugo, an unsuccessful council candidate two years ago, has decided to try again. Haven Shoemaker, a lawyer and a town resident for a year, believes in taking the middle ground on growth. Larry Hentz, a civil engineer, opposes the current rate of growth and favors slowing it down. He is teaming up with Steven Holland, a manufacturing executive. The last two candidates would add needed technical expertise as well as responsiveness to the council.
The Sun endorses Mr. Nevin for mayor and Mr. Hentz and Mr. Holland for council in Hampstead.