Taking control of Carroll's future No sense in hiring outside expert when local consensus must come first.


BEFORE THE Carroll County commissioners pay $250,000 to land-use guru Robert Freilich to develop a growth management plan, they ought to develop the political consensus that will be absolutely necessary to really control Carroll's residential development. Otherwise, the county might spend a tremendous amount of money to create a growth strategy that would never get enacted.

During his recent two-day presentation to county leaders and residents, Mr. Freilich, of Kansas City, outlined in very broad strokes the shortcomings of the county's current approach to development and outlined some remedies. None of his observations was new or startingly. Many of his conclusions have been sounded by others over the years. His prescriptions -- developing an industrial base, requiring roads and schools to be built before approving more development -- have appeared in various reports, studies and in this editorial space.

Nevertheless, countians should be grateful that Mr. Freilich has contributed a sense of urgency to the discussion. His forceful comments and visible outrage about past and current practices made it clear that continuing the status quo would be disastrous.

Carroll's planning commissioners and the county planning department have enough technical expertise to conduct public meetings, develop new policies and rework the master plan to better manage growth in the future. Their more daunting task will be to develop the political will to actually follow the dictates of such a plan.

At present, no consensus exists among county leaders. State Sen. Larry Haines' recent proposal to exempt small subdivisions on agricultural land from the adequate facilities law flies in the face of efforts to control growth. Meanwhile, the commissioners have yet to develop a coherent strategy for assisting Carroll's towns in how to deal with the development that is to be funneled their way.

Mr. Freilich's dynamism is impressive and can be tapped periodically if the effort to control growth starts flagging. However, managing growth should be a home-grown, grass-roots endeavor. Not only is it a lot cheaper, it will be more effective than a plan designed by an outside expert.

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