With the Board of County Commissioners now in control of the Freedom Community Comprehensive Plan after taking it back from the Planning and Zoning Commission, we hope that whatever changes they make carefully consider the future of growth in Carroll County and not just populist sentiment of the moment.

Over the years, Carroll County government has invested in infrastructure in the Freedom area and designated it a growth area — in fact, it is the largest designated growth area in Carroll. Other growth areas here include the eight municipalities, over which the county commissioners have no jurisdiction.


Commissioners Doug Howard and Richard Rothschild have expressed their displeasure with the planning commission’s decision to designate certain properties in the Freedom plan for higher intensity growth, echoing cries from the public and citing concerns about existing infrastructure.

While it is true that we should not overburden existing infrastructure including water, sewer, roads, schools and public safety, it also would be foolish not to recognize the economic need for Carroll County to continue to grow and attract young families here. Carroll has the lowest percentage makeup of residents under the age of 45 of any of the surrounding counties, as well as Harford and Washington counties, which government officials often compare it to.

It was less than two years ago, during the commissioners’ State of the County address, where this very topic was the focus of nearly every elected official on the board, including some discussions of higher intensity development. A few months later, during the county’s annual Economic Outlook Seminar, the chairman and CEO of the economic consulting firm Sage Policy Group questioned whether the county was creating enough opportunities for young professionals to live and work in Carroll County.

"We all age and if you don't add young people to the economy, that becomes a real problem,” Anirban Basu said at the April 2017 seminar. Basu emphasized a need for mixed-use, multifamily housing units and other less-expensive starter homes for young families who don’t want large properties to maintain or more rooms than they need. Smaller units could also be attractive to retired adults looking to downsize.

These are the types of properties that have potential to fit in well in the Freedom area in the future. And that is what the Freedom plan looks to address — the future, not the present.

Beyond that, it’s worth noting properties that may be designated for residential or commercial growth in the plan — like any comprehensive plan — are not guaranteed to be developed to the fullest extent. There is still a zoning process developers must adhere to, including having site plans approved, before any dirt can be moved. Any barriers related to infrastructure may be addressed during that process and, if a development is deemed undesirable or out of character, it may be rejected.

Stephanie Brophy, who attended Thursday’s meeting on behalf of developer Williams Quarters LLC, put it well: “You have other opportunities to halt the [growth] process, but to the extent you don’t designate it now, you are eliminating the possibility of growth in those areas.”

Republicans Howard and Rothschild have on numerous occasions expressed their belief in free market capitalism. If there is a demand for higher density housing in the Freedom area, then they should not be trying to keep it from occurring. If the market for such housing does not exist, it is far easier to develop land at a lower density than it is designated.

Growth is rarely popular. However, it is a necessity to ensure a community continues to thrive in the future. Like vegetables and medicine to a child, sometimes what is good for you doesn’t always taste particularly good.

If Commissioners Howard and Rothschild are too obstinate to recognize that, we hope that the other three commissioners take that into consideration when the board ultimately votes on changes to the Freedom plan.