Activist keeps urging growth ban Hughes' hopes for meeting with commissioners fade

'Turn off the spigot'

He wants moratorium on development in Freedom area

July 10, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Slow-growth activist Dan Hughes had high hopes when he set up today's meeting with the Board of County Commissioners to plead for a halt in residential development in South Carroll.

Now, however, Hughes said he believes the 2 p.m. meeting at the County Office Building in Westminster might be a futile exercise, because he has not seen any recent evidence that the commissioners are willing to take steps to control growth.

Hughes hoped to persuade the commissioners to impose a moratorium on residential development in the Freedom area, the fastest-growing section of the county, which encompasses the southeastern corner of Carroll, including Sykesville and Eldersburg.

"What we have to say is not news to the commissioners," said Hughes, an Eldersburg resident and founder of a group called Solutions for a Better South Carroll.

"They have heard this over and over and over," he said. "They are fully aware of the problem. The time for talk is over. What we need now is action."

At the very least, Hughes hopes Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Richard T. Yates today will join Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown in pushing for a moratorium. Brown called for such a ban in South Carroll and Hampstead in a June 21 letter to the Planning Commission.

The planning board has asked for legal advice regarding Brown's request and plans to discuss it at a meeting this month.

Brown's letter "raises hopes," Hughes said, but he worries that nothing will come of it.

Hughes pointed to a recently enacted law designed to slow the county's growth for 18 months or until the next master plan is adopted. That law is so watered down that it is not working, he said.

Hughes said he gathered 400 signatures on a petition asking the commissioners to restrict building permits in South Car-

roll as part of that growth-control measure. But the final draft did not mention building permits.

"We were saying, 'Turn off the spigot.' Development is out of sync with the county's ability to provide infrastructure," he said. "How many times do we have to say that before somebody takes solid action?"

Hughes said he is so "frustrated" by the commissioners' inability to slow growth that he is ready to advise people to throw in the towel until the next election.

"If people in South Carroll want change, we better be looking at the next election and replacing the present board of commissioners," Hughes said.

Carolyn Fairbank, another slow-growth activist and member of Solutions for a Better South Carroll, shares Hughes' frustration. She sees today's meeting as a sop. She wanted the commissioners to attend a community meeting 7 p.m. tomorrow at Liberty High School in Eldersburg to address residents' concerns.

Instead, she said, the commissioners "are throwing us a bone by meeting with us" today. "They have chosen not to put themselves out front in a public way" at a meeting, she said.

Pub Date: 7/10/96

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