STARNER'S DAM. Melrose. Smallwood. Know where they are in Carroll County? If the county commissioners approve, these places would soon achieve the status of official "rural villages."
The county Planning and Zoning Commission has approved listings of 35 such places -- many you've never heard of -- for designation as villages with defined geographic boundaries.
With eight established municipalities, Carroll is the leader in the region in incorporated towns. Now the list would grow to nearly blanket the county with villages.
The reason is not civic pride, population spurts or threatened historical values. It is about money, millions of dollars in Gov. Parris N. Glendening's Smart Growth program.
That anti-sprawl measure limits growth-related state funding for infrastructure -- roads, sewer and water -- to defined towns, cities, high-density clusters -- and rural villages. The rural villages must be adopted into the county's Master Plan for land use by July 1 to qualify for state aid under the Smart Growth guidelines. Villages would only be eligible for funds, not assured them. But this is not simply a political maneuver to expand Carroll's opportunities for state funding.
Many of these villages have real or potential water and septic system problems, according to the health department. They may need municipal water and sewer facilities in the future. The cost of building such systems is typically so expensive as to require government help.
The planning commission expects that the 35 nominees will meet the definition of "rural village" under Maryland law: a residential-farming area with some historic characteristics.
Overhaul of Carroll's Master Plan is not complete. It awaits adoption of an adequate-facilities law by the commissioners.
So the proposed rural villages could easily be incorporated into that growth-management plan, after a 60-day public review period.
Maryland's Smart Growth law enacted last year is often seen as detrimental to rural counties, focusing state funding on needs of established municipalities. The rural village section is frequently overlooked. For Carroll, use of this section of the law is important in planning for the future.
Pub Date: 2/27/98