Their roads are snarled, their schools are overcrowded and their patience is wearing thin. So more than two dozen Eldersburg area residents decided last night that now is the time do something about it. "We needroll.
The citizens' group invited representatives of other south county organizations to join them in finding a way to curb the rapid commercial and residential development that has transformed the Eldersburg area from a rural outpost into a full-fledged suburb.
Last night, Mr. Hughes and others vowed to push county leaders to implement community planning councils so that residents can have a direct effect on when and where development can occur.
The move is not a minute too soon for some residents.
"Who's going to do this? How are we going to get this moving? We're up against the clock now," said Carolyn Fairbank, a 23-year resident of the Eldersburg area. "We don't have months and months any more."
Mr. Hughes will introduce the notion of community-based planning councils to the Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday night.
"This could be a mechanism to protect ourselves and protect our land," Mr. Hughes said. "It would be one way, without us being an incorporated town, that we can gain control."
The idea of introducing regional planning councils is not unique. For several years, Harford County has had 10 planning councils made up of residents and business people. The councils provide officials with recommendations for growth management.
Eldersburg area residents feel that they have no say over their own destiny, Mr. Hughes said, and the planning council concept might be one quick solution that could be more palatable than full-blown incorporation.
The Eldersburg area has been the fastest growing part of Carroll over the past decade and is expected to remain so for the next 25 years, according to state and county planning officials.
At 30 square miles and with a population of more than 25,000, Eldersburg would become Carroll's largest municipality.
Along with its identity, however, would be a unique set of problems, South Carroll activists have said.
The road system is inadequate, with frequent traffic snarls during commutes and on Saturdays as people travel Liberty Road (Route 26) to shop.
Public water and sewer services are overwhelmed, and the six schools serving the Eldersburg area are at or above their capacity, according to school officials.
Incorporation also would entail an increase in property taxes from the rate of $2.35 per $100 of assessed valuation.