New tune on growth

Carroll County: New schools and industrial-zoned land easing obstacles to home construction.

May 19, 1999

LAND DEVELOPMENT in Carroll County is on the upswing, with a new set of county commissioners and a school construction program to address overcrowding. To be sure, growth remains a controversial issue, but the political tide is shifting.

Steven Horn, the county planning director, wants to allow home building in four of eight school districts under building restrictions because of the public schools' lack of capacity. New schools and slower enrollment growth are easing pressure, Mr. Horn says.

In the meantime, the Sykesville town council is moving to rezone a longtime industrial property for residential construction.

That rezoning was resisted for years by council members, who were concerned about a scarcity of industrial land. But the town is acquiring the vacant Warfield complex from the state for industrial development, and the Raincliffe site is seen as less important. The owner plans 158 homes on 32 acres.

A further push for development comes from the county Planning and Zoning Commission's decision not to review all business site plans. Mr. Horn will review plans, to speed the process.

Projects that may need public facilities will be referred to the commission, which had previously fought for the right of final approval. (The commission also used to decide school-capacity subdivision growth, which is now up to the commissioners.)

The change in perspective comes from county commissioners elected last fall, who strongly advocate landowner rights and the need for development.

The Concurrency Management Ordinance passed in 1997 limits new residential units to about 1,000 a year for six years. But the key to lifting limits is adequate school classroom space. The school board is addressing that problem with new schools in Westminster and Eldersburg.

Pub Date: 5/19/99

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