After months of research, community meetings and surveys, residents of the county's smallest town can take a look into New Windsor's future.
At a town planning commission meeting yesterday, officials unveiled the proposed New Windsor Community Planning Area Comprehensive Plan, which, if adopted, would guide growth for the town of about 850 residents.
"We decide what happens within our corporate limits," said Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. "This plan basically outlines what we want to do. It will be a document encompassing where and how the town grows for the next 15 years."
Nearly 75 people viewed the proposal, which estimates the town's population could increase to about 3,500 by 2020. The plan calls for:
Managed growth, while preserving the 200-year-old town's historic character.
Gradual annexation of industrial property, which would be developed as employment zones.
Road improvements and recreational outlets, including a bike trail and community center.
"The plan gives the town planning commission and council the authority to control growth," said Brenda Dinne, a county planner. "The council would ultimately decide on any annexation."
Those attending the meeting received a 10-page summary of the draft plan, complete with a color-coded zoning map.
"A lot of us came to listen," said resident Ronald Williams. "We will depend on our planning commission to decide."
Most questions centered on transportation issues and the lack of a bypass option for the town. Truck traffic along Routes 31 and 76, both state highways, runs rampant through New Windsor. Local quarry operations also generate a large portion of truck traffic, particularly along Route 75, which connects New Windsor and Union Bridge.
"We don't need to make transportation so convenient for trucks," said Doug Miller, a resident for 18 years. "The best idea would be for the quarry to haul stone to Union Bridge on the train."
Although planners have designed several bypass options to keep trucks off its streets, New Windsor has little hope of getting state money for a major road project.
"Basically, the state will never fund a bypass in New Windsor," Dinne said.
Two years ago, the county transportation office proposed a truck route that would "minimize the impact of trucks and help them through the town in a safer fashion," said Steve Horn, county bureau chief of planning.
Prompted by complaints from residents who live along the proposed route, the Town Council rejected the proposal. Horn called for a reconsideration of that route and inclusion in the revised plan.
"The bypass is a problem with no solution," said Gullo. "The goal of planning is to find a solution."
Cristina and Richard Carroll moved to New Windsor 18 months ago from Germantown after buying a new home in the first major subdivision to be built in the town in several decades.
"Growth is good, but are we prepared for it?" said Cristina Carroll. "More business would mean more traffic and just make the town more crowded."
Residents also were concerned with the impact of growth on schools in west Carroll, the only area of the county where schools are not crowded. As long as classroom capacity meets demand, approving development poses no problem, Dinne said.
Debbie Weishaar, until recently a Hampstead resident, moved to New Windsor so her two children would not attend school in portable classrooms.
"I am sure Hampstead and Manchester planned, but their plans didn't work out and they are overcrowded now," said Weishaar. "Hampstead was once like New Windsor but now it has doubled in size."
The county and the town must approve the plan, which could take effect within 60 days of its adoption. The county will accept written comments on the plan through March 17.
"You really can make a difference," Gullo said. "Anything can still be said and done. If you want something that people like, you have to plan."
A public hearing is set for 7 p.m. March 25 at the New Windsor Fire Hall. Information: 857-2145.
Pub Date: 2/27/97