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The Baltimore Sun

Culleton on Carroll: We're often reminded of the balance between growth and rural legacy

The late former commissioner J. Norman Graham said it best back in the 1970s:

"Ever'body comes to Carroll County wants to be the last one."

He was right.

Residential growth takes money out of out our pockets in many ways. In a sluggish housing market, new units compete with existing houses for the few buyers out there.

Residential growth can also increase the load on our schools, fire and rescue services and, of course, law enforcement. It can also add to the morning and evening traffic jams of commuters who work outside the county.

Additionally, when residential growth vastly outpaces commercial growth, the tax burden on all of us is high because there is such a small percentage of industrial taxpayers in the total tax base.

Finally, those who sought the relative tranquillity of rural Carroll County can find that tranquillity fading away as more green acres are paved with development.

All new housing raises objections, but dense multi-unit buildings draw particular scrutiny.

There is project currently planned for multi-unit housing abutting onto Oklahoma Road opposite Sisters Lane.

Rush hour traffic on Mineral Hill, Bennett Road and Oklahoma Road may increase. Two buildings are proposed, one an assisted-living 100-unit facility and the other a 135-unit apartment building for independent living seniors, with a projected population of 300 residents.

Both facilities will, of course, compete with similar facilities in South Carroll.

In such cases simple questions need to be asked. Who, other than the landowners and the builder, will benefit from this use? And would this complex be more of a burden on taxpayers than single family homes in the same space?

Landowners have a right to develop, but rezoning is not a matter of right.

In recent days I've seen at least 30 yard signs saying "Stop Development on Oklahoma Road."

I make no judgment here, but I'll note that the planned site is typically hilly and wooded. It is one of the decreasing number of natural spots in South Carroll.

Whatever your view, the Planning Commission needs to hear from residents about this project. There is a public meeting scheduled in the County Office Building, 225 N. Center St., Westminster, on Tuesday, April 17.

The commission's meeting begins at 9 a.m. To confirm just when during the meeting that this project will be discussed attendees may wish to contact Kimberly Brandt at or 410-386-2135.

Letters expressing views may be sent to the Carroll County Planning Department, 225 N. Center St., Westminster MD 21157 (reference the Ely Property, S-11-010).

This is also a good time for nearby residents to call or write Commissioner Doug Howard, who represents this area. He's at the same address as above, and also at

Let the county know how you feel, for or against.

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