Freedom Plan accepted, moving process to public comment

The Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission has accepted the Freedom Plan, moving the next phase to public feedback.

The next step of the Freedom Plan, which lays out a map for the future development of the South Carroll area and was last updated in 2001, is a 60-day public comment period and a public hearing to be held June 8. State law requires the plan be updated every 10 years, and the commission has been working for over a year to comply.


"Up till now, every piece of the plan that has been prepared and reviewed by the planning commission has been a draft," said Phil Hager, director of land use planning and development for Carroll County government.

The plan is now complete, but that does not mean it will go into effect in its present form, Hager said.

"There are three 'A' words, and we actually capitalize all three of those words ... Accepted, Approve and Adopt," he said. "The name we give the plan when it is complete is called 'Accepted.'"

Once the commission has accepted the plan, the draft will be sent to various state agencies, as well as adjoining counties, for review, according to Hager. The receipt of the plan by the Maryland Department of Planning, expected sometime this week, begins the formal 60-day review period.

"At the conclusion of the review period, there will be a public hearing conducted by the Planning and Zoning Commission, and that is currently scheduled for June 8," Hager said. "During this whole time, people may provide comments to us."

Hager said comments may be communicated in writing, by email or in person at any of the Planning and Zoning Commission's twice-monthly meetings, the next of which is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 5.

"The planning commission reviews all of the comments that are received," he said. "Two years ago we did the countywide master plan, and we had a huge binder full of comments and they went through and reviewed every one of them. It's a painstaking process, but it's important."

After the review period, the public hearing and any changes the planning commission might make in response to comments, the commission can make a motion to approve the plan, the second 'A,' word, according to Hager.

"Once the plan is approved, then the planning commission's work on the plan is complete," he said. "They would then officially transmit the document to the Carroll County Board of Commissioners."

The commissioners could then do one of several things. They could change it, but if so, Hager said, they are required to hold another public hearing. They could also adopt it, the third and final 'A' word, in which case the plan would be finalized.

However, Hager said, the commissioners could also reject the plan outright, which is not something Hager is keen to see because it would start the process all over again. Given that the planning commission has held several joint meetings with the board, he is optimistic the commissioners will be comfortable with the plan.

"But of course, I am not prepared to get ahead of myself yet," Hager said. "We still have to get through this review process. There's always the possibility that someone will come up with something that someone hadn't considered before."


If you go

What: Meeting of the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 5

Where: Room 003, Carroll County Office Building, 225 N. Center St., Westminster

For more information on the Freedom Plan, go to