Strategies in development plan debated

Commissioner wants `goal-oriented' document

January 25, 2000|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The county commissioners debated yesterday whether the proposed master plan for Carroll's growth and development should include strategies for reaching the goals outlined in the document, which has been bandied about for more than a year.

Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Robin Bartlett Frazier said they would like to slash the strategies -- for example, specific programs to reach goals in economic development and preservation of the county's heritage -- included in the proposed plan, a move that would reduce its breadth and scope.

"I don't think there's any specific strategies I want in the master plan. I'd like to see a document that's more goal-oriented," said Frazier, who, as a former member of the county planning commission, voted on many aspects of the document.

Frazier has been one of the most vocal critics of the proposed plan. She has derided it as a "book on 50 ways to raise your taxes and increase staff."

Dell said he would like to see the strategies outlined in a separate document. "I think it's dangerous to set strategies in the master plan," he said.

Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge has raised concerns about the plan because it was drafted without a land-use study, meaning comprehensive zoning was not taken into consideration. The county has hired a consultant to complete such a study.

Dell questioned whether citizen input was given sufficient weight in the plan, which was written by former bureau chief of planning, Marlene Conaway. Conaway left the county last year to take a similar post in Florida.

Four teams of about 35 people spent more than 2,000 hours gathering information and making recommendations for the 125-page document over an 18-month period.

Steve Horn, county director of planning, told the Board of County Commissioners yesterday that the document does not direct growth to a particular area.

He noted that the document does not contain a zoning map.

"It just says these are the strategies we'd like to see," he said.

The plan was drafted in 1998 and would set goals for protecting 100,000 acres of farmland and rezone five properties totaling 223 acres for economic development.

The commissioners said they would like to target more land for rezoning to accommodate industrial and commercial growth. Businesses provide slightly less than 12 percent of Carroll's tax base, the lowest business-to-residential ratio in the region.

A handful of residents, including planning commission member Maurice E. Wheatley and alternate David L. Brauning, gathered at the County Office Building in Westminster to hear what the commissioners had to say about the proposed plan.

The meeting was held yesterday as part of the commissioners' review of the proposed master plan. Their review began in July, six months after the board took office.

The previous board of commissioners shelved the plan in November 1998.

Commissioners can only accept or reject the proposed plan, they cannot amend it. Only the county's planning and zoning commission can make changes. The commissioners are expected to finish their review and forward recommendations to the planning panel in the spring.

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