Planning and Zoning Commission begin addressing Freedom Plan concerns

The Planning and Zoning Commission spent the first half of its nearly three-hour meeting discussing the Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan and the application for Finksburg Sustainable Communities Designation.


But the second half was spent going through a letter county commissioners sent to the commission earlier this month. On Nov. 9, commissioners crafted the letter meant to clarify the task of the commission as it reconsiders the Freedom Area Comprehensive Plan.

The Freedom Plan creates a long-term guide for future growth in the South Carroll area in regard to roads, resources and future land use designations, which can then guide future zoning changes. State guidelines require the plan be updated every 10 years, but the county is overdue, as the plan was last updated in 2001.

The planning commission focused on Wednesday on the county’s vision statement, land use definitions and the land use map.

Planning commission member Gene Canale said he found some of the commissioner’s requests in regard to the vision statement challenging to answer, especially the part that said the commission should pay “close attention to the quality of life priorities that originally attracted citizens to Freedom.”

“How do we know what really attracted citizens to Freedom?” he said.

Planning commission Chair Richard Soisson said it’s incumbent on the planning commission to try to address as much as it can of the commissioner’s concerns, though at a certain point, the commission has to move forward.

“There’s some point where we have to say this is it, ‘this is our vision. If you want to change it, then you change it,’ ” he added.

Planning commission member Alec Yeo took a look at the statement and said there are a few ways to make some changes, and suggested adding the strong education system. Soisson suggested adding something about the importance of economic development.

The group agreed to continue looking at the Board of Commissioners’ statement when the entire planning commission was present.

But, Soisson said, what Yeo did was “a good starting point.”

The planning commission also spent time discussing land use designations, and some of the changes the planning staff has made to them. A large part of the changes revolved around making the designations more specific and easier to understand.

Wothers said in the past, there’s been “just a lack of understanding” about what the designations meant, and what would fall into the categories.

And while the group spent nearly 90 minutes discussing the items, they made no official decisions or votes, instead waiting until a later meeting where more members are to be in attendance to make decisions. At Wednesday’s meeting, Vice Chair Cynthia Cheatwood and commission member Jeffrey Hoff weren’t in attendance. County Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, who is the nonvoting member of the commission was only in attendance for the first portion of the meeting.

Wednesday night’s discussion came after the planning commission accepted a draft of a new plan in April, and voted to approve and send it to the county commissioners in July.


The county commissioners had the power to immediately adopt the plan as it was given to them, leading to its implementation; reject it and ask the planning commission to start from scratch; alter it themselves and then adopt it; or, remand it back to the planning commission with instructions to take a second look at certain parts of the it.

The county commissioners were unable to come to an agreement on how to alter the plan for adoption and remanded the plan back to the planning commission.

The Board of Commissioners is set to discuss the Freedom Plan and the planning commission’s Wednesday night meeting at the board’s Thursday open session. The meeting is set for 10 a.m. in Room 311 in the County Office Building.

A full agenda for the meeting can be found at: