Growth moratorium proposed in Carroll Eldersburg and Hampstead areas cited

June 23, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

County Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown has sent a scathing letter to the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission calling for a residential building moratorium in the Eldersburg and Hampstead areas.

"It seems a mockery to view what has occurred to date as 'planned,' " Brown said in the two-page letter to the seven-member commission. "Who will own responsibility for what has occurred? Unfortunately, you will."

Brown's letter was mailed Friday, three days after the planning commission approved eight subdivisions totaling more than 240 lots, most of them in South Carroll. Since May 21, the commission has approved preliminary or final plans for 362 building lots and rejected none.

Hampstead and the Freedom area are Carroll's fastest-growing communities. Hampstead's population has doubled in the past 10 years.

In the Freedom district, which includes most of the southeastern corner of the county, 85 percent of the planned housing has been built or is in preliminary stages, county planners say.

"I urge you to focus on the finish line," Brown said. "Will Eldersburg be an attractive, vital, comfortable community? Or will the bottom line of the development industry forever create the future of the Freedom district?"

Brown's proposals were viewed with dismay by developers and applauded by slow-growth advocates.

"His shopping list will put everyone out of business for quite a while," said developer Richard L. Hull, president of Carroll Land Services Inc. The conditions Brown seeks "could not be accomplished in 10 years," Hull said.

Brown has called for development to be stopped in the Freedom district until:

A "comprehensive review" of the Freedom district is completed.

Construction begins on the new Westminster High School, which is expected to ease crowding at Liberty High School.

Funding appears on the state's construction schedule for improvements to Routes 26 and 32 and for the widening of Route 32 from two to four lanes.

Money can be found for construction of service roads paralleling Route 26 through Eldersburg and for landscaping the corridor.

Fire and police services are "deemed adequate without reservation" throughout the district.

Brown called for similar measures in Hampstead. There, he wants to halt development until:

Funding for construction of the Hampstead bypass appears on the state's highway construction calendar.

Construction begins on a new Northeast Middle School and Westminster High School.

A review of Carroll's master plan is completed.

Fire and police services are "deemed adequate without reservation" in the district.

Brown ended his letter on a conciliatory note: "Knowing each of you as I do, I have absolute faith in your collective ability to plan and thereby to restore the faith of the public at large. There is no more pressing need within Carroll's government."

Planning commission member Joseph H. Mettle, a Sykesville resident and slow-growth advocate who has voted against most of the development proposals for South Carroll, said Brown's letter is "just what we've been asking for."

"I just pray that the planning commission members will heed what Ben said in writing," Mettle said.

Commissioner Richard T. Yates, Mettle and planning commission alternate Grant S. Dannelly "have been saying the same thing verbally, but the commission has not been listening," Mettle said.

Commission Chairman Dave Duree was noncommittal about the moratorium but said he shares Brown's "overview."

Pub Date: 6/23/96

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