A small building boom was expected in Carroll County's Freedom District after the moratorium on sewer hookups was lifted last summer.
Two years ago, the county halted hookups until the treatment plant's capacity could be increased from 1.8 million gallons a day to 3.5 million. The moratorium put a brake on growth.
The anticipated boom hasn't materialized yet, but county planning officials expect that developers, who have been biding their time during the recession, will begin to build now that interest rates are down and the economy is recovering.
About 300 lots are on the waiting list for hook-ups, and several hundred units are also wending their way through the county's planning review process.
By the year 2000, Carroll County's population will increase by another 21,000 residents to 148,000, the planning department projects. A great many of the new residents will be heading for South Carroll.
For people interested in living far from the region's urbanized communities, but within a reasonable commute, Carroll is very attractive. Despite the doubling of the population in the past two decades, the county still retains its rural feel. Improvements in roads make the South County easily accessible to jobs in Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties. Taxes are also much lower than in adjacent Howard County.
More importantly, developers have found that conservation-zoned land is much less expensive than the agricultural-zoned land over the county line in Howard. Developers don't have to deal with some of Howard's residual controls on development. With lower land costs, they can realize greater profits.
The county has measures in place to control this inevitable growth. Developers can record only 25 lots each quarter. The county government ought to continue this practice.
Gradual development makes a great deal of sense from a variety of perspectives.
Public amenities such as schools, parks and roads can be expanded and upgraded in anticipation of an increasing population. Commercial developments can be coordinated with housing construction.
We hope that the lifting of the moratorium on sewer hookups does not mean that county officials will consider lifting other controls that have been in place.