County master plan is revisited

Commissioners, others discuss transportation and school growth

August 31, 1999|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The county commissioners continued discussion of the proposed master plan for Carroll's growth and development yesterday, focusing on transportation and school construction issues.

A handful of citizens, including Carroll County Planning Commission member Maurice E. Wheatley, attended the work session. During their meeting with county planners, the commissioners discussed setting limits for future growth and the need to plan today for tomorrow's needs.

The proposed plan would direct development to the county's nine designated growth areas, set strategies for protecting 100,000 acres of farmland and rezone five properties totaling 223 acres to foster economic development.

Commissioners Julia Walsh Gouge and Robin Bartlett Frazier said they would like to see the county build new schools with an eye toward future expansion.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell did not attend the meeting.

County planning director Steven C. Horn suggested that the Board of County Commissioners also consider taking a more aggressive approach to funding improvements to state roads, such as Route 26 in South Carroll and Route 30, the main artery through Hampstead and Manchester.

Horn suggested that the county could pay for road improvements and then seek reimbursement for the projects, rather than wait for the state or developers to pay for the work.

Frazier said she felt such action would be too costly.

"A responsible board would do its best to relieve traffic on the highways, but I feel it would be irresponsible for the board to pay for the improvements," Frazier said.

Horn also suggested that the commissioners consider imposing an excise tax on new development to pay for needed intersection improvements along state highways.

Howard County has a similar program, Horn said, and used the funds to build a much-needed interchange on Route 100, one of the Howard's busiest roadways.

If the commissioners decide that they would like to forward-fund road projects, they will have to get permission from the General Assembly, Horn said. Gouge recommended that legislation be drafted and submitted to the county delegation this fall.

The commissioners also discussed the creation of additional park-and-ride lots.

"We need to analyze the ones that are working and maybe put a few more in," said Gouge, who suggested that Cape Horn Road might be an ideal location.

The meeting yesterday was held as part of the commissioners' review of the county's proposed master plan. The review is expected to take about four months.

The previous board of commissioners shelved the plan last year, leaving it for this board to discuss.

The commissioners are expected to complete their review of the proposed plan in October, Horn said.

A new growth and development plan will probably not be ready for adoption until next year, he added.

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