Carroll panel decides shape of master plan

Planners argue to keep citizens' input in growth

June 01, 2000|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The planning commission decided last night that Carroll County's master plan for future growth should closely resemble the 125-page document that was rejected by the county commissioners last year.

"I don't think we can call what they've sent back to us --- a map with some text - a master plan," said planning member Melvin Baile, Jr. "A master plan should provide a blueprint for future growth. If we don't have a detailed plan that includes strategies to implement our vision, we'll have more problems like the ones we're seeing now in South Carroll."

The county commissioners are considering a moratorium on home construction in South Carroll, the county's most populous area, because the area's aging water treatment plant cannot keep pace with development. Attempts to develop new water sources are on hold as the county waits for state permits to build wells in Sykesville.

Although Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier blamed South Carroll's water troubles on poor planning, she repeatedly pushed to eliminate restrictions on development in the proposed master plan during the commissioners' eight-month review of the document.

The commissioners suggested that the strategies and policies be placed in a separate document, as a book of recommendations they could refer to but not have to adopt. The planning commission rejected that idea last night.

"I think the plan should be as close to what the citizens wanted, or why go through the process?" said planning panel member Ed Beard. "A lot of people spent a lot of time on this."

Nearly 150 volunteers spent two years drafting the document, which was approved by the planning commission in 1998 and presented to the previous Board of County Commissioners.

The former commissioners shelved the plan before the November 1998 election, leaving it for the current board to review. The master plan will establish the first new land-use guidelines in Carroll since 1964.

State officials have said the best master plans incorporate community comments, provide clear directions for future growth and relate to local zoning laws.

Baile suggested Carroll's plan mirror those adopted by neighboring counties, particularly Howard and Harford counties. Those counties' plans outline strategies to protect historic properties and provide detailed direction for future land use, Baile said.

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