Master plan gets negative reaction 5 of 7 candidates for commissioner tell forum they oppose it

October 14, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

The article on a political forum in the Carroll County edition of The Sun yesterday should have identified county commissioner candidate Perry L. Jones Jr. as the mayor of Union Bridge.

The Sun regrets the error.

Five of the seven candidates vying for a seat on Carroll's three-member Board of County Commissioners said last night that they would reject the planning commission's proposed master plan to guide the county's growth.

Only Democrat Perry L. Jones Jr., mayor of New Windsor, said he would vote to approve the plan. Another candidate was noncommittal.

Jones and the other six County Commissioner candidates were asked how they would vote during a forum sponsored by Carroll County Chamber of Commerce last night in Westminster.

Republican Julia Walsh Gouge of Hampstead -- a former two-term county commissioner -- was the other candidate who did not oppose the plan.

Gouge said that the commissioners can only accept or reject the proposed plan, but cannot amend it. She said she could not say how she would vote on the plan until she had an opportunity to hear from the planning commission and meet with the county planning staff.

"It would be inappropriate to say how I would change it at this point," she said.

The plan, if approved, would direct development to designated growth areas, set goals for preserving 100,000 acres of farmland and change the land use on five properties totaling 223 acres to foster economic development.

The plan was designed to accommodate a population of 200,000 in the county by 2020, a 34 percent increase over the current population of 149,395.

One of the severest critics of the proposal last night was Republican Robin Bartlett Frazier of Manchester, a former planning commission chairman.

She had voted on various aspects of the plan until this spring when she resigned as a member of the panel to run for county commissioner.

"It was a great exercise," Frazier said, but "it's [a] 20-year work program."

The proposal "confirms the goals" of the county's current master plan, which was last updated in 1964, she said.

"I think we should work with that," said Frazier, who derided the proposed plan as a "book on 50 ways to raise your taxes and increase staff."

Incumbent Republican Donald I. Dell of Westminster, who voted with County Commissioner Richard T. Yates last month to shelve the plan until after the November election, said the proposal "has too many flaws" and that he has put together two pages of concerns about it.

"We owe a lot to the citizens" -- four teams of about 35 people each spent 2,145 hours gathering information and making recommendations for the 125-page document over an 18-month period -- "but a lot of what the citizens wanted was dropped" in the final draft, Dell said.

Jones pointed to the work of those residents as the chief reason for supporting the plan.

"We owe it to the volunteers who worked on the plan to pass it," he said. "It should not be rejected."

If changes are needed, they can come later as amendments, Jones said.

Others who said they would vote against the proposal were Independent Carolyn Fairbank of Eldersburg and Democrats Roger Larry Mann of Westminster and Maxine Carole Wooleyhand of Sykesville.

"My first indication that something may be wrong with the plan was when the present Board [of County Commissioners] wouldn't vote on it," Wooleyhand said. "As it stands now, I wouldn't vote for it."

Fairbank said she opposes the plan because it would allow "too many special taxing districts" to pay for services such as water and sewer.

Mann found the affordable housing portion of the plan to be in conflict with a transfer tax proposal.

More citizen participation is needed, Mann said, adding that he would schedule hearings in major sections of the county to discuss the plan before voting on it.

Pub Date: 10/14/98

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