A new-look planning commission South Carroll shouldn't expect two new members to halt development.


WITH THE APPOINTMENT of two South Carroll residents to the Carroll County Planning Commission, residents are seeing the impact of last year's election. Commissioners W. Benjamin Brown and Richard T. Yates, who ran on slow growth platforms, now control the appointment process and are installing their choices on important policy-making boards.

By making Joseph H. Mettle a full member, instead of an alternate, Mr. Yates has given his closest political ally a vote on the board. If Mr. Mettle, an Eldersburg resident, adheres to promises he made during his own unsuccessful bid for the Maryland House of Delegates in 1994, he will likely oppose most new residential developments. Grant S. Dannelly, the planning commission's new alternate member, also is expected to look askance at new subdivision proposals.

One of the perennial complaints from South Carroll is that its slice of the county is underrepresented on policy boards. With these two appointments, the interests of that part of Carroll are more adequately represented.

Conventional wisdom is that those newly empowered will stop all development. However, much to the chagrin of some residents, development in South Carroll will continue. A great deal of land already zoned for housing has not yet been developed. Builders also will continue to have interest in South Carroll because it is convenient to employment centers around Baltimore and Washington. Stacking the planning commission with no-growthers won't change that marketplace reality.

Rather, the task for the reconstituted planning commission is to see that the development of South Carroll -- as well as the rest of the county -- is orderly. The commission must see to it that public infrastructure -- roads, sewers, water treatment plants, schools -- is in place or is being built before, rather than after, new developments. The planning commissioners also must ensure that the projects they approve are compatible with the existing residential and commercial developments and don't destroy the county's quality of life.

Messrs. Brown and Yates say that those are the considerations the new members of the planning commission will keep in mind. That is what the county voters asked for last year.

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