Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

October 13, 2002

Sunset Clause would curb growth

Many of the candidates for the three seats for Carroll County Commissioners have run their campaigns for slower, controlled, managed growth and development in Carroll County. My husband and I are looking for candidates who will support and push forward a new regulation referred to as a Sunset Clause in Carroll County.

The new regulation we are referring to would require a two-year time limitation for approved preliminary plans. If building has not commenced within two years of the preliminary plan approval granted by the Planning and Zoning Commission, then the builder or developer would be required to re-submit his application before starting to build.

This simple regulation is a much-needed tool to help manage and control growth and allow for proper budgeting of public services within the county.

When we moved to Carroll County and Mt. Airy five years ago, we could see that we were moving to a rapidly expanding area. We trusted that the local government officials were monitoring this growth and that they would have a strategy for managing the necessary resources such as schools, roads, emergency services and, of course, basic necessities such as water.

However, since we have moved to the county, the enrollment at local schools have exploded, wells continue to run dry, and emergency services are overloaded.

Unfortunately, the excuses the local and town government are always the same: that no one can stop or slow the development since the subdivisions were approved as far back as 20 to 30 years ago or that as long as the developers followed the current regulations, nothing can be done to slow or stop the growth.

This situation is not just occurring in Mt. Airy. It's happening all over the county - Sykesville, Eldersburg, Hampstead, etc.

When builders decide to acquire land and build entire neighborhoods, they are not concerned with the effects that these developments have on public services. They are simply looking to make a quick profit.

Carroll County had no idea that when it sporadically approved these subdivisions many years ago all the development would occur within a short period of time. With all this new development occurring so quickly, resources are being strained throughout the county. There is simply not enough tax dollars to build the necessary schools, finance more emergency services, build roads and address the dwindling water supply.

A two-year time limitation on approvals would allow local officials to re-evaluate the budget, schools, water, [and] emergency services to better meet the needs of all Carroll County residents.

This necessary tool is just a common sense method that would solve many problems regarding uncontrolled growth and budget considerations in Carroll County that currently exist. By enacting this clause, county officials would have the opportunity to allow controlled growth and be able to budget for the necessary resources to accommodate such growth.

We have been informed that the Sunset Clause is not a new idea and has actually been rejected by county commissioners in the past. But already this year, voters have made their indications clear regarding their desire for a better method of planning and controlling growth and the county budget.

Although there may be many methods for handling the current state of uncontrolled growth in Carroll County, we believe the Sunset Clause is an important tool that every candidate needs to support and enact during their term as Carroll County Commissioner.

I hope future county commissioners will place the citizens of Carroll County above the interests of the builders and developers.

Susan Cole

Mount Airy

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