Back growth controls at Tuesday hearing
As Carroll County citizens, whether we are aware or not, we sit on the verge of some monumental changes in the way our county will manage growth in the future. After many years of inadequate control and irresponsible leadership, we elected a new board of commissioners in 2002. These new commissioners pledged to listen to citizens, open our government beyond the influence of builders and developers and, finally, put a system in place to begin controlling growth rather than being controlled by it.
The commissioners, through the residential building deferral action, have supported recommended changes in the planning and zoning process meant to fix the county's broken Concurrency Management Ordinance. Various committees, like the Growth Task Force, have also spent the better part of a year studying the impact of growth and have now made meaningful recommendations concerning minimum standards for adequate facilities (roads, schools, fire and rescue and police). The commissioners now stand ready to deliver on their promise of enacting the meaningful controls they were elected to produce. However, these finalized proposals and recommendations will not necessarily become the law of the land without support at public hearings or letters from citizens.
Dozens of citizen volunteers like myself, together with county government staff, have donated hundreds of hours of valuable time to various committees and task forces studying things like adequate facilities, environmental regulations and the planning and zoning process. These volunteers have carried the proverbial "ball" all the way to the 2-yard line, and now it's time to cross the "goal line" by enacting their recommendations without revision. The goal line is the public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Scott Auditorium at Carroll Community College.
Opposition to these changes clearly comes from those who most benefit from inadequate controls. Simply said, they do not want things to change. Generally, these people are the residential developers, builders and those who have, in the past, heavily influenced the inability of county government to take control of our county's future. Their influence, while waning, has certainly not disappeared, and it is expected that they will voice their public displeasure at anything that represents a change from the past way of doing things. Thus, it is of critical importance that citizens counterbalance this influence by exercising their public support for growth management proposals.
If we truly care about our county or have invested time to volunteer our public service in county committees and task forces over the past year, it's imperative that we show our support in order to make these recommendations become law. It would be a terrible shame if, after all the hard work, these recommendations were not enacted because of a lack of support at the 11th hour. This would also be tantamount to fumbling the ball at the goal line.
On Tuesday we need to show up and support the changes we voted our commissioners to enact. Let's score a touchdown for our future by turning out in support of all the good work that's already been done.
The writer is the Chairman of the Freedom Area Citizens' Council.