Updated map for 911 service delayed

Computerized project to be more accurate, aid development planners

January 30, 2000|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

A new computerized map to aid emergency services in Carroll County was to have been done a year ago, but it has repeatedly been delayed by county officials as they try to figure out what information should be included.

The state-funded, $540,000 project was originally due for completion in January last year. County officials have delayed final payment to a Baltimore company that was hired in fall 1998 to revise the map. The document is also expected to help the county plan growth and development.

Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson, a planning and engineering firm, was hired to create a computerized map for 911 dispatchers that would be more accurate than the one being used.

Most of the work for which the company was hired, including aerial photography and design of the map, has been submitted to the county's Office of Public Safety. County employees are reviewing the information.

"I've been here 15 years. During that time, we've had ongoing programs to try to keep the map up-to-date, but there was nothing comprehensive, nothing that allowed us to see how accurate the map was," said Howard S. "Buddy" Redman, administrator of the county Office of Public Safety.

The complexity of the project caused several delays because the county had never been through the process before, Redman said.

The county has paid Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson about $400,000. Final payment, about $140,000, will be made when the project is finished, Redman said. He expects the map to be completed this summer.

Once it is done, dispatchers will be able to give emergency workers more precise directions.

The map also will serve as an integral part of the planning process as the county commissioners implement their vision of Carroll's growth and development.

A proposed master plan would encourage development in 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.

The commissioners have reviewed the plan and are drafting recommendations that, if adopted by the county Planning and Zoning Commission, would alter the 125-page document.

Many of the goals and policies included in the master plan were based on a 1994 land-use study. Since then, county figures show Carroll's population has grown about 11 percent -- from 138,384 residents five years ago to 153,681 today.

An updated emergency services map would allow the commissioners to make educated decisions about Carroll's devel- opment, said Steve Horn, county planning director. The map will illustrate how much land has been reserved for agricultural preservation and where commercial and industrial development is occurring, among other data.

"It will provide an excellent inventory of existing uses of land in Carroll County," Horn said. "It will help the planning commission and commissioners as they finalize the master plan."

The commissioners have said they would like to see the updated map as soon as possible.

"The only way we can plan for the future is to look at the facts," Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge has told county planners. "The information we have is not factual. It's outdated."

The commissioners are expected to continue discussing their recommendations for the proposed master plan at a public meeting next month.

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