Towns battle Carroll over rapid growth

Municipalities, county ponder joint study panel

March 17, 2002|By Brenda J. Buote and Mary Gail Hare | Brenda J. Buote and Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The mayors of Carroll's eight towns are bristling at the Board of County Commissioners' recent suggestion that the municipalities are responsible for the county's rapid residential growth - a contention that building permit records do not support.

Nearly 1,400 single- and multi-family homes were built in Carroll County last year - about 400 more than the annual maximum goal of 1,000. Of those, town permit records show 519 were built within towns; the remaining 900 or so were built in unincorporated areas that are controlled by the county.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell, who often has criticized the municipalities for allowing brisk growth within their boundaries, apologized to town leaders in an interview Friday for his earlier remarks and called for a more open town-county dialogue.

"I have said the problem is with the towns, but we just got a report [from the county permits department] that shows the problem is with the county," Dell said. "I apologize for that. Obviously, we need to really take a hard look at what's going on in the county."

The mayors agree, and are urging the commissioners to work with the towns to limit development, which they blame for school crowding and overburdened water systems.

"We need to do everything possible to facilitate a meaningful dialogue with the commissioners," said Westminster Mayor Kevin E. Dayhoff, who wrote a letter to the commissioners suggesting that a joint task force of town and county officials be formed "to build a cooperative foundation."

"The cornerstone of growth management must be directing development toward existing infrastructure, which is found in our municipalities," said the letter, dated March 15.

The commissioners urged officials from the towns last week to help slow growth.

"When I suggested we all look at growth and try to control it for the future, I was not trying to place the fault at the door of the towns," said Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge, who said she favors the creation of a joint task force. "Looking at the figures, it's clear that Carroll County's growth has been out of control - not in the municipalities, but outside the towns."

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