Freedom Plan gets go ahead for public hearing after county review

Freedom Plan gets go ahead for public hearing after county review
The Board of County Commissioners and the Planning Commission met in for a joint meeting June 11 for the last time to discuss the Freedom Community Comprehensive Plan before it goes to a public hearing July 11. (Jennifer Turiano)

After a two-hour session Monday, the Freedom Community Comprehensive Plan is ready to head to its public hearing July 11.

The Board of County Commissioners and Planning Commission had a roundtable discussion to go over any last concerns before the plan is brought to the public one month from now — talking about major changes and points of contention, and why certain land use decisions were made.


“The Planning Commission has a good, final draft ready to be released to the public for public comment,” said Lynda Eisenberg, acting director of the county Planning Department.

The most recent iteration of the document includes changes to wordsmithing the Freedom Plan’s mission statement, expanding future land use definitions, changes to the proposed Planned Unit Development, possible future changes to sewer and water maps, and properties that will have changing land use designations.

Vision statement

Commissioners had asked the Planning Commission to revisit the vision statement to “better reflect recent community feedback, paying closer attention to the quality of life priorities that originally attracted citizens to Freedom,” according to Eisenberg. It took about six meetings to get the statement to something everyone could agree on, she said.

The new statement focuses on a safe community dedicated to education and preservation of the rural and natural environment, as well as promoting economic development and growth by supporting balanced commercial areas, a variety of housing options, and protecting the community’s identity and sense of place.

By contrast, the 2001 vision statement focused on maintaining a functional and aesthetically pleasing area that is modern and sensitive to the environment; and welcoming to people of all ages and income levels, and to businesses and industries.

Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, who represents the region in question, took issue with the county stating that the Freedom Area wants to focus on promoting growth.

“Is that part of what our vision is?” he asked.

“I think there’s a strong desire to accommodate growth, but not to promote growth,” Howard said. “We don’t go out and seek growth; it might be growth coming and that’s where it goes.”

Planning Commission member Dan Hoff, however, said the Freedom Area has been the county’s designated growth area since the 1960s, and that is why it is unincorporated.

Howard was also concerned with the statement that Freedom wants to offer a “variety” of housing options.

“We strive to accommodate the community’s housing needs,” he said, “but if tomorrow everyone said, ‘I’d take a yellow house with this,’ I don’t think we’d say, ‘Nope we need more variety.’ ”

But the Planning Commission’s interpretation of the phrasing was different, said Hoff.

“We want to serve all of Carroll County,” he said. “When people start out, they buy a townhouse. Then they outgrow the townhouse and buy a single-family house. After they get older and retire, they get a condo. So the importance is having a variety — at least that’s my position and that of others on the Planning Commission — that you want to provide a variety of housing types.”

When you take that away, he said, you run the risk of not having the options millennials will want in the future or not being able to serve the county in the long run.


“Some people have this attitude,” said Hoff, “that the only thing that should exist in Carroll County is 1- to 2-acre lots with a big mansion on it. I would argue … we are going to be sitting on a lot of houses that are not what the people of the future are going to be looking for.”

Aside from the discussion, however, Alec Yeo, of the Planning Commission, said the statement was a way to encompass a compromise of what the county and the residents of the Freedom area want.

“It’s got everything in there,” said Yeo. “We are pretty comfortable that this captures and identifies and gives credence to the various topics that were present throughout.

“Balance was the key word in this one, and that’s what we are doing here all the time,” he said, “finding that balance.”

Other changes

The Freedom Plan’s land use definitions have also been explained in more detail — as per the Board of County Commissioners’ request — to include the primary purpose, types of uses generally permitted, typical densities for residential, and water and sewer service.

We want to “keep this from being too zoning-regulated,” Eisenberg said. “[It’s about] finding that line. Looking at what you'd like the vision to be for that area — not the inevitable, but what you’re looking to move toward in your 30-year plan.”

The land use plan is the first step, and then the zoning, which will be updated when the county’s comprehensive rezoning process is complete, will follow. The land use, Eisenberg said, is just a broad view of what the county and residents of Freedom might want to see and provide the opportunity for in the Freedom Area — not a mandate or a promise.

Definitions are listed in Appendix D of the plan, which can be found in the document online. Physical copies are also available at the county government offices.

Opportunities for different kinds of PUDs, or Planned Unit Developments, were also expanded.

Currently they are allowed in Residential-High Density districts. Changes would allow these developments — which allow for relatively higher density and more flexibility in design and housing types than is normally permitted — in Residential-Medium Density districts as well with a 50-acre lot minimum instead of a 100-acre lot minimum.

“In medium-density you could not have multifamily or commercial on it, but you can on the high-density,” Eisenberg said, “which is something we currently allow anyway. So really this just adds an enhancement to medium-density.”

“The idea here is to add a variety,” Hoff said. “A range of housing. If you ride around Frederick, Howard and other counties, you see a lot more of that.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that it will happen, but it will allow the opportunity,” he said. “They’d have to come to the Planning Commission for approval. Someone doesn’t come in and do whatever they want to the property — they have to come up with a plan. The idea would be to present it to the Planning Commission to explain why this is good concept for the property. It provides an opportunity for, quite frankly, some more innovative development than what you tend to see.”

More information on the proposed PUD can be found in Appendix H of the document.

The full Freedom Plan document, found at, also includes more information on potential future changes to water and sewer services as the area continues to grow, and changes to the land use designations of certain properties to better reflect zoning changes that have occurred since the 2001 plan.


The public hearing will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at Liberty High School.

Once the public hearing is over, the Planning Commission will meet again to discuss the plan on July 18 and the Board of County Commissioners will hold a public hearing before the 90-day period before adoption begins.