Hampstead town officials have asked the Carroll County commissioners to consider a zoning amendment to prohibit billboards along the $83.4 million Hampstead Bypass to emphasize the 4 1/2 -mile roadway's role as a scenic gateway, when it opens to traffic at the end of 2008.
"We'll have this new road going through pristine countryside," Hampstead Mayor Haven N. Shoemaker Jr. said. "We'd like to keep it as blemish-free as possible and maintain the rural character of our community."
Hampstead passed an ordinance in 2001 to prohibit all billboards from being erected within the municipal boundaries, town officials said.
Billboards that were already in place were grandfathered in, but only a handful remain in town, Shoemaker said.
The county commissioners voted Tuesday to schedule the billboard restricting amendment for public hearing.
No date has been set for the public hearing, said county spokeswoman Vivian D. Laxton.
The zoning amendment would prevent billboards from being located within 1,000 feet on either side of the Hampstead Bypass (extended Route 30).
"Really, that's too far back for anyone to see, so that would be a discouragement," Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge said before voting to put the measure to a public hearing.
Much of the bypass is within the county, outside Hampstead's town limits.
When Hampstead town manager Ken Decker wrote to the commissioners about the matter earlier this spring, he said "the community would prefer this new roadway through the picturesque North Carroll area remain free of billboard blight."
Because the Hampstead Bypass will present the first image of Carroll County that drivers coming from Baltimore County see, town officials said it must make a good impression.
"It is a gateway community," Shoemaker said. "We'd like our gateway to look nice."