Blueprint for development of Carroll's Freedom Area is made public by county 11-chapter plan outlines strategy for next 20 years

November 01, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The county has unveiled the Freedom Area Comprehensive Plan, its blueprint for growth in Carroll's most populated area.

The lengthy document looks at the history of the area settled in 1724, 113 years before Carroll became a county, and sets a vision for its future, providing strategies for the next 20 years.

"The principal concern of citizens throughout Freedom was growth and the effect it is having on the community," the plan says. "Accordingly, the primary goal for the 1998 Freedom Plan is to manage growth and seek creative ways to facilitate a sense of place and community."

Its 11 chapters deal with every aspect of community life and represent two years of work by county planners and residents, and the first major revisions to the original plan in 21 years.

Planners will not wait two decades again. Writers of the new plan have insisted on reviews and revisions every six years.

The county established Freedom as a major growth area in 1977 and has since directed development to the 47 square miles at its southern end. In that time, the population has doubled to nearly 28,000, but roads, schools and other infrastructure have not kept pace. Many South Carroll residents are demanding slower growth.

County officials worked closely with a 15-member Citizens Advisory Committee to develop a plan that "creates community that is functional and aesthetically pleasing, modern and sensitive to the environment, welcoming people of all ages and income levels as well as business and industries that want to locate in our community of neighborhoods."

The plan recommends improvements to transportation, particularly along routes 26 and 32, its major arteries, and urges the county to make completion of connector roads a priority.

"Until now, the policy of the county has been to wait until developers construct planned major streets," the plan says. "This has led to the construction of incomplete roads."

The document identifies employment districts and insists that residential and commercial development "is consistent with the county's ability to provide public facilities in a timely manner." It also focuses on sites for capital improvements, land acquisition and land banking.

It calls for the establishment of local offices for county government and the state police, and urges the creation of adequate technology infrastructure.

"It just means a common-sense look at existing technology so we can identify areas for technology business centers," said Raj B. Williams, county planner.

One chapter is devoted to public recreational needs, such as swimming pools, hiking trails and golf courses.

About 100 copies of the plan are in the mail to community groups, libraries, state and local planning offices and schools. Some 10,000 newsletters with summaries of the plan will be sent to Freedom residents. It is to be available on the Internet tomorrow.

The plan, which the county Planning and Zoning Commission and county commissioners have yet to vote on, is subject to a 60-day review, which starts Tuesday and ends Jan. 2.

The public will be able to comment at two community information sessions from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 3 at Wesley-Freedom United Methodist Church, and Dec. 8 at Oklahoma Road Middle School.

A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 7 at Liberty High School.

Pub Date: 11/01/98

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