Freedom residents offer vision for future Planners told to keep high quality of life

June 05, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

The Freedom area may be the fastest growing part of the county, but it is still a lovely place to live, a group of residents told Carroll planners this week.

And they want to keep it that way.

One of their goals, shared at a planning workshop Monday, is "to improve what [they] have with no significant additions" to the population.

Monday's workshop was the first of three in which planners are seeking community comment to help update a growth-management plan for the Freedom area. The second is set for 7 p.m. today at Wesley Freedom United Methodist Church in Eldersburg. A third meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at Liberty High School.

The Freedom area -- the southeastern corner of the county, including Eldersburg and Sykesville -- is a region in which 85 percent of the planned housing is already built or in preliminary stages, county officials said. Planners expect the area's last subdivision to be built in about five years.

"You are almost all here now," county planner Helen Spinelli told the 53 residents at the session, referring to the region's overall population, 31,350. "You were planned for," she said.

But some things planned for in 1977 have not occurred, she said.

"Industrial growth has not occurred at the same rate as residential growth, school construction has not kept pace and transportation plans have not been fully realized. Service roads and some major roads have not been connected," she said.

Spinelli was not telling residents anything new.

When asked to list problems in their community, they mentioned the same things Spinelli had noted: inadequate roads, not enough industry and crowded schools.

Listing the Freedom area's assets, they followed the lead of K. Marlene Conaway, the county's deputy planning director, who said: "This community is obviously a great place to live."

Residents agreed, citing the "natural beauty the parks, decent schools, nice neighborhoods and small-town feeling."

The quality of life is what sets it apart, many residents said. They had difficulty defining that quality but mentioned things such as "not having to lock your car" when eating at a fast-food restaurant or "having a hostess smile and mean it."

"It's God's country," one resident said. Others nodded in agreement.

When asked to compile "unrestricted" lists of what they wanted in the community, residents offered modest suggestions: a pool, a community center, more health-care facilities, billboard regulations and information from the county about any future building in the area.

Their "vision statements" of what they want are variations of a dream of life untouched by crime, poverty or illness.

"Keep the Freedom area the way it is now -- a safe and pleasant place to live," one group of residents said.

"Build an environment promoting the health and welfare of all of Freedom's citizens -- a place where people can live, work and be educated and enjoy the beauty of nature and the beautiful world we live in -- not more stores and houses," said another.

Despite the generally upbeat tone of the workshop, some people went away unhappy.

"I was hoping for more answers," said Ronni Anderson, president of the Berkley Estates Homeowners' Association. "We faxed in a lot of questions. I felt we needed more information."

Planning Commission Chairman David T. Duree, who attended the meeting, said one of its benefits is that "you get to hear candid input from a cross-section of the community."

"It's an opportunity to evaluate what we're doing, as well as what we should be doing," he said.

Spinelli told residents that their comments will help planners with an update, which is expected to be completed by December.

Pub Date: 6/05/96

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