When Carroll County Commissioner Donald I. Dell made the extension of Interstate 795 one of his top priorities last year, dozens of residents formed an organization to oppose the proposal. By staging a number of meetings and forums, the group helped coalesce the widespread community opposition that ultimately resulted in Mr. Dell shelving his plan.
Rather than building on that triumph, the Carroll County Civic Association has lost its vigor and direction.
With proper leadership and programs, however, the group could emerge as an independent voice in helping to map a future for the county. At the moment, no civic organization is examining and organizing discussion of long-range issues of population growth, land use, economic development and environmental preservation in Carroll.
The lack of coherent discussion about these issues has resulted in unfocused public policy. For example, at the same time the county government has been assisting the farming community, it also has been approving record numbers of subdivisions that contain the seeds of destruction for much of the agricultural economy. Suburban developments and working farms often don't make good neighbors, and the commissioners now find themselves thinking about enacting a "right to farm" ordinance as a corrective measure.
At present, county policy is shaped by the special interest groups that have easy access to the commissioners. It is their agendas -- rather than the general public's -- that is determining Carroll's future.
While complaining about the current state of county affairs has become a popular pastime, it has had little impact; all the griping comes across as a disorganized cacophony that officials can easily dismiss. It was CCCA's focused opposition to extending I-795 that made it impossible for the commissioner to proceed.
While opposing Mr. Dell's plan may have been the genesis for the civic group, negativism doesn't have to be its destiny. Residents who care about this county should get involved in this organization.
CCCA will hold its next meeting tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at the Christian Revival Center, Lawndale Road, Finksburg. Carroll citizens owe it to themselves to investigate this worthy civic group.