The Board of Carroll County Commissioners voted 4 to 1 Thursday to approve the long-awaited Finksburg Corridor Plan.
The plan, which has been in the works for more than 10 years, is intended to promote new small-scale business, office and retail activity in the corridor while providing opportunities for residential uses on secondary roadways of Route 140.
Commissioner Robin Frazier cast the lone opposition vote, saying it was "un-American" for a planning document, such as the Finksburg Corridor Plan, to include aesthetic or design guidelines for new development or redevelopment.
"I think business owners know best what to do with their property," she said.
A previous version of the plan, which was rejected by the commissioners in 2011, included design guidelines that cover new construction and renovations. These guidelines, which Frazier opposes, are now attached to the plan as an appendix to serve as suggestions for property owners.
The commissioners approved an amendment to the plan, which was proposed by Commissioner Richard Rothschild, that clarified the guidelines will not prohibit a property owner from not following the guidelines on their property.
The Finksburg Corridor Plan began as a comprehensive update to the 1981 Finksburg Area and Environs Comprehensive Plan. The corridor is roughly defined as the area along Route 140 from the Baltimore County line to the east to Kays Mill Road in the west.
While a planning document for the Finksburg area has finally been approved, residents involved in the planning process since the beginning have criticized the new plan, saying it will not improve the corridor.
Commissioner Haven Shoemaker—whose district includes the corridor— was the lone commissioner to vote for the plan in 2011. In September 2012, the board sent the plan, along with comments, back to the planning commission for revisions.
Nearly a year later, the plan no longer contains a boulevard zoning district, a proposed zoning that was intended to stimulate commercial development. The plan also includes a controversial rezoning of a property at the corner of Routes 140 and 91 from conservation to commercial. Residents have said that they have not been made aware of the property owner's plans for the 15-acre property.