Seventeen South Carroll neighborhood and business associations have joined forces to form the Freedom District Planning Council, an umbrella group that organizers say will be the voice for the nearly 25,000 residents in unincorporated South Carroll.
"We plan to be a forum for the different entities and share our common concerns with one voice," said Carolyn Fairbank, who was elected to head the group Tuesday. "We can be the link between South Carroll and Westminster and possibly the prototype for other communities in Carroll County."
Nearly a third of the county's 142,000 residents live in towns, represented by a mayor and town council. But Freedom -- South Carroll and the fastest growing area of Carroll -- lacks that representation.
The council will cover the issues of many local organizations and take their issues to county government.
"We want to develop lines of communication between the county and groups in South Carroll," said Michael Burgoyne, a group member who is a Sykesville town councilman. "A lot of people are looking for a conduit to get their message across."
Often, a single issue spawns an organization. The South Carroll Coalition, for instance, formed four years ago in response to community concerns about Springfield Hospital Center. The coalition then fought for a middle school. More recently, Solutions for a Better South Carroll has battled for better long-range planning. Homeowners' associations have lobbied for improved roads and schools.
In April, more than 700 residents were successful in defeating a 210-unit apartment complex proposed for Liberty and Ridge roads. Still, frustrated members of the new council say that by the time they learn that a large project is approved, it's too late to marshal opposition.
"I see a lot of single-issue groups in South Carroll," Burgoyne said. "I see the council representing a diverse group and through our diversity we have credibility."
The council hopes to keep the public informed and voice its concerns to county government.
"The council represents the majority of people in the Freedom area," said Barry Marsh, vice chairman. "I think the county had been looking for a unified voice from South Carroll."
The council, in the planning stage for nearly a year, includes homeowners' groups, community organizations, the South Carroll Business Association, emergency services and developers.
"Theoretically, consensus gives us the most weight," said council member Wayne Schuster. "I hope the county decision makers will listen."
At its first meeting Tuesday night, members elected officers and voted unanimously to oppose a medical center planned near Progress Way and Route 32 in Sykesville. The center, proposed for industrial land, received conditional approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals yesterday.
"We had asked for a deferment until a traffic study and the bTC master plan review are completed," said Fairbank, who testified at the zoning hearing.
The council will continue to oppose the use of industrial land for commercial ventures, but plans to do much more than review development.
"We see this council as doing more than yelling when someone wants a conditional use," Burgoyne said.
"We won't just be hammering builders in South Carroll," Burgoyne said. "We will study the issues and work on solutions. We want to educate ourselves about the county and on local issues."
Pub Date: 7/25/96