A committee that's studying whether Carroll should build a new jail or expand the existing one yesterday discussed the pros and cons of building a jail at the Northern Landfill.
The nine-member committee toured the 260-acre site on Route 140 and looked at a five-acre parcel toward the front that likely would be the only spot suitable for a jail.
The landfill is within minutes of the courthouse, but it might be costly to hook up utility lines there, said committee member George Hardinger of Silver Run, who is director of capital projects for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in Montgomery County.
The landfill site is attractive because the county owns it, he said.
But, the county should consider that there could be health hazards associated with building at the landfill. If an inmate got sick, he might file a lawsuit against the county, said committee member David N. Bezanson of Finksburg, who is deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
"Inmates have a tendency to bring lawsuits," he said.
More jail facilities are needed because the 120-bed Carroll County Detention Center at 100 N. Court St. is continually overcrowded. The county has planned for about four years to build an 80-bed jail addition that could handle prisoner population growth for 10 to 15 years.
Two weeks ago, Commissioner Donald I. Dell proposed building a new jail instead of the addition. The county will need a larger facility eventually, so it may as well build one now, he said. He was the only commissioner at the committee meeting yesterday.
Commissioners Julia W. Gouge and Elmer C. Lippy have said they favor expanding the current jail.
The state Department of Budget and Fiscal Planning has agreed to pay 53 percent of the expansion cost. Carroll Public Works Director Keith R. Kirschnick said yesterday he does not know whether the state would pay the same percentage for a new jail.
Some committee members said the commissioners should make decision about whether to build a new jail soon. When a decision is made, the committee could make recommendations about how to best carry out the decision.
"You have to make that basic strategic decision," Mr. Bezanson said.
"My theory is, you are going to have to bite the bullet and make a decision. Get on with it," Col. Charles F. Fowler, of the Carroll County Sheriff's Department, told Mr. Dell.