County zoning proposal to be revealed tonight Meeting on master plan is at North Carroll High

March 31, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Carroll County planners will offer residents one last chance to learn about proposed revisions to the county master plan at a meeting at 7 p.m. today at North Carroll High School.

Next month, a public hearing will allow residents to debate specific proposals or suggest amendments to the plan. The hearing is tentatively scheduled for April 23.

The proposal does not change the county's philosophy of directing residential development to the Freedom District in South Carroll and around the eight incorporated towns, county planner Brenda Dinne told those attending informational meetings last week in Westminster and South Carroll.

It is "a policy document," an overall guideline, Deputy Planning Director Marlene C. Conaway said.

The Planning and Zoning Commission rejected an initiative last month to rezone 1,069 acres for industrial and commercial development in conjunction with the new master plan.

The County Commissioners could restore the rezonings when they act on the master plan and zoning map that accompanies it.

Technical difficulties

Planners agreed to try to improve definitions of technical terms after residents at the Westminster meeting said terms such as "scenic roads" and "accessory dwellings" were used in the plan but not explained.

Planning Commission Chairman Thomas G. Hiltz said the commission would consider one resident's complaint that the master plan lacks coherence. The commission recognizes the potential conflict between agricultural and economic development interests, he said.

"Maybe what we ended up with was a plan that doesn't have conflicts rather than one that is coherent," Hiltz said.

First revisions since '60s

The proposed changes mark the county's first attempt to revise the master plan since the 1960s. If the County Commissioners endorse the plan, they will be adopting goals such as:

Nearly doubling agricultural preservation efforts. At the current rate, 57,000 acres will remain agricultural when the county reaches development capacity. The plan proposes preserving 100,000 acres and financing the effort with a local real estate transfer tax.

Providing industrial and commercial land to keep the business and industry share of the county's tax base from dropping below 12 percent as residential development increases. The county's commercial and industrial tax base is the lowest in the Baltimore region. County officials have repeatedly said that housing development doesn't pay for the services, including roads and schools, that residents demand.

Protecting the environment by reducing average daily traffic on state roads in the county by 10 percent in the next 22 years; clustering development to protect environmental resources; and removing barriers to pedestrian-friendly communities.

Phasing residential development to keep construction from outpacing the county's ability to provide roads, schools, police and fire protection and other services.

Preserving historic sites by adopting a historic preservation plan and identifying scenic roads. The Planning Commission has also designated 35 unincorporated areas as rural villages, making them eligible for growth-related state financing under Gov. Parris N. Glendening's Smart Growth initiative.

North Carroll High School is at 3801 Hampstead-Mexico Road, Hampstead. Information: 410-386-2145.

Pub Date: 3/31/98

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