More 'citizen' input urged Master plan effort is termed weighted toward development

'Political fiasco' feared

'Balance' is sought on four committees studying growth

July 09, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Growth-control activists in South Carroll contend that they are not adequately represented on the committees reworking the county's master plan, the blueprint for guiding growth.

"There are not enough citizens on the teams," said Dan Hughes, founder of Solutions for a Better South Carroll and a member of a committee looking at economic development.

"Development is weighed stronger. Without balanced [committees], we are headed for a political fiasco."

Last month, the county Planning Commission appointed four teams -- each made up of about 30 members -- from industry, agriculture, government, education and citizenry to address growth-related issues such as adequate facilities, economic development, preservation of agricultural land and land use. The county's master plan was adopted 30 years ago.

Two citizens have been appointed to each committee, but some are serving as representatives of homeowners' associations and other organizations.

County officials hope the teams, which will meet twice monthly until October, will develop new directions for managing growth in a county where the population has increased by 20,000 since 1990, to an estimated 142,000. Carroll's schools and roads have not keep pace with the growth.

South Carroll residents have become particularly concerned because one-third of all growth is centered in that part of the county, which includes Eldersburg and Sykesville.

The South Carroll residents are concerned about congested roads, crowded schools and other issues, such as aesthetics.

Carolyn Fairbank, a member of Solutions for a Better South Carroll who lives in Eldersburg, is a member of the adequate facilities committee, which will review regulations on schools and roads to make sure they keep up with development.

She said the teams are stacked with farmers and business people.

"Developers and farmers are going to say that they are citizens, too," Fairbank said.

"They are, but they have a special interest."

Hughes said, "Farmers and citizens have a different perspective on growth and problems associated with growth. We wanted more balance."

County Commissioner Donald I. Dell, a retired farmer, said farmers are citizens, too, and have a right to be involved in the process.

He said each of the three county commissioners was asked to submit nominees to the Planning Commission but that only he did so. His list included farmers from various parts of the county.

County officials have no plans to add other citizens to the committees.

Dell, meanwhile, expressed other concerns about the planning committees. He is not optimistic about the outcome of the effort.

Teams originally had about 20 members; some now have more than 30. "The teams are too big, and they are going to get bogged down," Dell said. "You are talking about 100 different people with 100 different ideas."

Planning Commissioner Tom Hiltz said smaller groups would work better if the goal was "a solution every team member can defend."

Fairbank said she expects a sharing of ideas.

"I hope we will be working together for the good of all Carroll County and that we can come to a livable consensus on the quality of life," she said.

The commission is meeting tomorrow to set goals and review the work schedule for each team, Hiltz said.

All team members will receive a list of expectations before the individual team meetings begin July 17. Teams also will work with a planning facilitator and a research assistant.

"The way the committees are set up, with a lack of general citizens, I don't think they will get to common ground," Hughes said.

Once the teams have made their reports, the county Planning Department will propose a survey of all households. The teams will reconvene to discuss survey results.

County planners hope to have a reworked master plan by August 1997.

Pub Date: 7/09/96

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