No pain, no gain Carroll County: Long-term pluses of growth management outweigh construction losses.

April 03, 1996

WORK ON Carroll County's growth management ordinance is moving ahead in spite of the development community's expressions of alarm. Developers, home builders, real estate agents and others who make a living from construction would suffer some hardship from the proposed 20-month ban on new subdivision approvals. But suggesting that the local economy will go into a tailspin is nothing but hyperbole.

Much of the county's income derives from residents who work outside the county; 60 percent of Carroll countians commute to other jurisdictions to work. Only a minority of the remaining 40 percent work in home-building. That's not to diminish the impact on them, only to point out that the potential economic loss should not take precedence over the long-range gain of better planning.

The other often unmentioned fact is that many of the carpenters, masons, drywall installers, electricians, plumbers and painters who work in the county don't live in the county. Some can't afford to. They live elsewhere in Maryland or in Pennsylvania. Further, the growth ordinance will not halt all construction. Building will continue in subdivisions -- of which there are many -- that have already received approval. Also, the ordinance would not apply to new industrial or business development. Moreover, this limited moratorium on new housing is designed so the county can catch up with schools, roads and other infrastructure. Those projects themselves will provide jobs for the building trades.

The debate on crafting a sensible growth management plan needs to focus on long-term effects. Any plan that reduces development will create some short-term dislocations. Delaying hearings and rewriting some of the provisions of the ordinance indicate that Robert Freilich, its primary author, is sensitive to the development community's concerns.

While homebuilders and developers may see a dip in their considerable incomes, they should not be allowed to impede this overdue effort to control Carroll's explosive residential growth. The benefits of preserving the county's quality of life far outweigh any temporary losses. What's more, they will make the county a more livable, viable community into the next century -- a boon to anyone in real estate.

Pub Date: 4/03/96

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