Towns pledge unity on growth

Mayors and officials back development curbs

`We are not islands'

Carroll County

August 21, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

In a show of solidarity, representatives from Carroll's eight towns endorsed last night strong controls on residential growth - measures more restrictive than those recently enacted by the county commissioners - and explored the possibility of forming a council of town governments.

"This issue of growth and our relations with the county has galvanized the towns," Hampstead Councilman Haven Shoemaker said during a meeting of town officials at Westminster City Hall. "We are unified on this subject."

The group strongly supported forming a countywide council of town governments that would help in regional planning. But town officials decided against including the proposal in a letter to the county commissioners outlining growth controls they are demanding.

"Including additional language diffuses this document," said Sykesville Mayor Jonathan S. Herman.

The towns' plan for residential growth would have the county review and consider restricting building permits in areas where schools are crowded, roads congested and water in short supply. Originally, the plan had called for rescinding permits in crowded areas - a proposal the county said would lead to numerous lawsuits.

The officials signed the plan a week after the commissioners strengthened their growth-management ordinance by limiting construction to 25 lots per subdivision each year.

Officials also have promised to create a pool of information on development that they will share with the towns - a move that would provide more accurate projections on growth.

"The commissioners have started down the right path, but we would like to see stronger measures," said Shoemaker, who also is president of the Carroll County chapter of the Maryland Municipal League.

Mount Airy Council President Frank Johnson developed the towns' six-point plan, which insists that the county share information on development and plan with the towns in mind. He lobbied successfully for support from the other seven towns and citizen councils in Freedom and Finksburg.

"We are not islands," said Johnson. "We are one community affected by what the county does. We are part of the solution and we are saying no residential growth without the facilities to support it."

Carroll's master plan directs growth to the towns and to the Freedom and Finksburg areas. Town officials claim the county has failed to provide services - schools, roads, utilities - that new development demands.

"This is the first time that anybody has gotten any traction on the growth debate," said Westminster Councilman Gregory Pecoraro. "We can impact the process, if we stay together."

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