Commissioners come to second round of Freedom Plan agreements

Commissioners come to second round of Freedom Plan agreements
The Carroll County Board of Commissioners discussed various land use designation changes for properties in the Freedom Area on Sept. 11, 2018. (Courtesy photo)

The Board of County Commissioners made more progress on the Freedom Community Comprehensive Plan at its second meeting dedicated to the topic on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

Commissioners took the Freedom Plan — a 10-year master plan for the Freedom Area — from the Planning and Zoning Commission in late August in an effort to finish it before commissioners Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, and Doug Howard, R-District 5, leave office in December.


The primary discussions Tuesday morning were focused on the land-use designations of large properties in the Freedom Area — including the Beaty, Clas, Delaney, Harrison, Gibson, Luers, Primoff, Smith and Wolf properties.

The Planning and Zoning Commission had originally agreed to change the land use designations for the Beaty property — from industrial, conservation and medium residential to high commercial and high residential.

Rothschild said he and Howard came to a different suggestion when they looked at possibilities for the property.

“We put a placeholder for Beaty,” he said, “putting medium residential on Long Meadow [Drive] and Bennett [Road] with 30 acres of commercial medium.”

“I don’t see a particular problem going from industrial to commercial,” Howard said. “You could look at any of those [allowable uses] and say, ‘I would rather have this than that, or that than this.’ But I'd say that blend of commercial and medium residential would be ideal.”

Howard also said that growth here works because there is water and sewer all around the property to accommodate it.

“Everything to the north of Bennett [Road] definitely has water,” said Planning Department Acting Director Lynda Eisenberg. “I think the sewer depends community by community.”

Commissioners took a mini-vote and tentatively agreed to change the property’s land use designation to commercial and residential medium.

The commissioners’ mini-votes are considered placeholders, and so are subject to change after discussions of the entire Freedom Plan and the public hearing.

In the Planning and Zoning Commission's 2018 edits to the Freedom Plan, it suggested the Clas property also have its density increased — from agricultural conservation to medium residential.

However, that property has no access to water and sewer and there are no plans to bring those resources in.

“Given conversations about the need for growth, concerns about density, cost of infrastructure, etc.,” Howard said, “I'm comfortable where it stands as ag.”

Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, agreed with Howard, joking that it was with hesitation that he did so.

“I can’t even see developing there until there’s water and sewer,” he said, “and there’s no future plan for water and sewer. I have to agree — reluctantly — with Commissioner Howard.”


Rothschild said he would entertain the idea of increasing the density to low residential, but with no capacity for water and sewer the other commissioners did not think an increase was warranted.

Not within the next 10 years at least — the length of time this version of the plan will be implemented, Howard said.

“We have a history of making plans that cannot be implemented,” Howard said. “If we have no way to see it happening in the future … what that says to a future Board of Commissioners is that you are going to bring water and sewer there, or that nothing is going to happen.

“If some future board says we’ve got a huge demand for growth,” he said, “that should be the rationale you look at then. I want to make sure when we are done with this plan, the community knows we are going to implement it. Planning to me means: This is what we intend to do at some point.”

Commissioners then agreed to keep the Delaney property’s land-use designation the same as it was before, for an employment campus, and for the Harrison and Primoff properties to be agricultural.

They also voted to keep the Gibson and Smith properties at low residential, make the Luers property medium commercial, and make the Wolf property medium residential.

But Frazier voted against the tentative decisions to keep Gibson low residential — instead of medium — and make the Wolf property medium residential — instead of high.

After spending millions of dollars to get the infrastructure in Freedom, the county’s designated growth area, he said it doesn’t make sense to not have high-density residential areas utilizing that infrastructure.

“When you're talking about a demonstrated need for growth,” he said, “I'm looking at this and one thing you guys brought up is an average 17 days before a house is snatched up [in the Freedom Area].

“What could be a more demonstrated need for growth?” he asked. “I'd say if that's not a demonstrated need, I don’t how you demonstrate the need.”

Despite some disagreement, the board voted to approve the draft land-use map which encompasses all the changes made on Sept. 11 and previously. The updated map should be available on the by the end of the week, according to a county release sent out via email after the meeting.