Meeting the demand for more recreation space in North Carroll, the county planning commission approved plans yesterday for a 60-acre county park near Manchester.
At Route 30 and Cape Horn Road, the park will include two baseball/softball fields and two multipurpose fields for soccer, football, lacrosse, field hockey and other sports. The county commissioners have allocated $433,000 for this first phase of the project. Other phases could include a hiking trail, a playground and picnic pavilions.
"It's really meant to meet the needs of the North Carroll Recreation Council, which is expanding because the population is expanding so rapidly," said Richard Soisson, deputy director of the Department of Enterprise and Recreation Services. "This will give them a lot of relief."
The planning commission also approved plans for a 58-unit retirement community on Uniontown Road outside Westminster. Limited to residents age 55 and older, the 55-acre Coventry at Westminster is being developed by Lockard Development Co. of Westminster.
Lockard won approval despite objections from H. Morton Rosen, owner of a horse farm adjacent to the property. Rosen said he was concerned the project would increase traffic along Uniontown Road.
In other business yesterday, the planning commission reviewed a request by two Sykesville developers to rezone 42 acres of South Carroll farmland off Streaker Road for a 14-lot subdivision.
Though the case will not be heard for several months, it is creating discussion among planning commission members because the property is near the Rash brothers' farm.
Last year, the brothers won approval to rezone 145 acres of their farm off Route 97 for a 50-home golf course community. The brothers had argued that their farm should be rezoned because the character of their neighborhood had changed -- mainly through increased population and traffic.
The decision to rezone the property drew criticism from state officials who feared it would undermine the county's agricultural preservation program and lead to unbridled development in South Carroll. The case is on appeal in Carroll County Circuit Court.
Commissioner Donald I. Dell, an ex-officio member of the planning commission, said yesterday the Streaker Road case could be the first in which property owners follow the Rash brothers' lead.
Because the Streaker Road property is in the same neighborhood as the Rash farm and has been subject to the same changes, the developers could use the Rash case as a basis to argue for rezoning.
"It could open up a can of worms," Dell said.
The Streaker Road property, which the planning commission visited yesterday, has differences from the Rash farm. It is a much smaller property with no development rights. Without rezoning, developers would be unable to build houses on the property.
By contrast, the Rash brothers would have been able to build one home per 20 acres of farmland. Planning staff cautioned that despite similarities between the Rash and Streaker Road cases, all rezoning cases are considered and decided individually.