New course for a new board Carroll County: Commissioners changing tack on school construction, growth, taxes.

December 18, 1998

IN ONLY TWO weeks, Carroll County's new commissioners have distanced themselves from their predecessors.

Based on their campaign statements and initial comments in office, the trio appears disposed to delay school construction schedules and to revamp the county's proposed land-use plan. They are not about to raise taxes, even for the holy grail of farmland preservation, and have axed the perennial plea of the ++ previous commissioners to increase the local real estate transfer tax.

While emphasizing the importance of industrial development in Carroll, the commissioners are likely to reconsider the county's growth-control Concurrency Management Ordinance.

At least two of the three suggest that the measure, limiting new housing units to about 1,000 a year, should be repealed or significantly revised.

With only one of the three commissioners returning from the previous board, changes would not be unexpected: the two new officers have their own ideas. But change has been swift.

The commissioners have pledged to avoid the backbiting and petty feuding that marred the previous board. They've adopted a policy of publicizing their meetings and of regularly scheduled .. discussions with department heads.

Overhaul of the county land-use plan, the first in two decades, should be a priority for the new board. Numerous changes are proposed for the draft document, which has been in the works for nearly three years. The commissioners will send amendments to the planning commission.

Building two Westminster schools in the next four years remains a major question for the county. Pupil numbers are rising, and schools are crowded, but the $45 million price tag disturbs many taxpayers.

The new threesome signals it will postpone construction funds to explore other options.

Pub date 12/18/98

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