Plan offers early notice Compromise provides for residents' input before development

'Citizen involvement plan'

Business concerns over proposal were raised and resolved

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

Carroll residents may begin getting early notice on how new developments will affect their neighborhoods.

Residents often do not know about development plans until they see earth being moved. But the County Commissioners, members of the Planning and Zoning Commission, and the executive committee of the Economic Development Commission agreed at a meeting last week on a compromise "citizen #F involvement plan" that would change that. The proposal would:

Allow resident participation when concept or preliminary plans for a new development are reviewed by the planning department's Subdivision Advisory Committee.

Require properties being developed to be posted with notice of the development and the committee meeting to discuss it.

Provide for advertising the time and place of the meeting in local newspapers.

Require notification of nearby residents of the meeting by first-class mail.

Meetings of the advisory committee have always been open, but public participation has been virtually nonexistent in the highly technical discussions among planners and developers.

Planning Director Philip J. Rovang and his staff expect to present a draft of the citizen involvement plan to the County Commissioners and the Economic Development Commission by next week.

"Our goal is to improve communication to affected residents but do it in such a fashion that it is not an unduly onerous process" for businesses looking to come to Carroll or expand in Carroll, Rovang said.

Until last week's meeting, it looked as if the business community might block the proposal.

What concerned business leaders, said Planning Commission member Joseph H. Mettle, was a recommendation that commission members meet with affected residents as soon as a development is planned in their area.

But even before last week's meeting, officials were backing away from that recommendation.

Carroll has only one advantage when competing for business with other counties -- "speed," Rovang told the new Freedom Area Community Planning Council at a gathering to discuss the proposal.

"Time is money, and the county can save businesses money by processing their plans quickly, making sure all the I's are dotted and T's crossed. Adding two to three weeks only makes the situation worse," he said.

"There were concerns within the business community," County Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said after the compromise was worked out.

"It became very clear that all that was being asked for was to allow citizen input at the beginning of the process rather than the end," Brown said. "Since we have a technical meeting early in the process, we will modify that to allow citizen input. It was an issue that if not effectively dealt with could have made a mountain out of a molehill."

"We all compromised and we will have citizen input -- that's the important thing," Mettle said.

Pub Date: 12/23/96

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