Carroll officials plead for bypass funding

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Carroll County officials pleaded yesterday with state leaders to build a highway bypass around the congested town of Manchester, but left the State House without even the symbolic show of support they had hoped for.

In presenting their case, Carroll officials tried to persuade the other two members of the Board of Public Works to overturn Gov. Parris N. Glendening's decision to withhold state funds for the bypass.

Comptroller William Donald Schaefer instructed county officials to work with state planners to try to find alternatives to the $70 million bypass and report back in a month.

"The governor says he isn't going to fund it," Schaefer said. "If you sit waiting for him to fund it for four years, what are you going to do in the alternative?"

Glendening refused this year to commit state funds to the bypass after concluding the project violates Maryland's Smart Growth law and would lead to more suburban sprawl.

The Board of Public Works can overrule a governor on whether a project can be built under the provisions of the Smart Growth law, but such a vote would be symbolic because the governor maintains control over state spending.

Carroll officials turned out in force to make the case for the Manchester bypass.

"We are going to lose many historical houses to the constant vibrations we had on the foundations," said Carroll County Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge, who was joined by the other two county commissioners, Manchester Mayor Elmer C. Lippy Jr., state legislators from the county and other local officials.

Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier added a warning. "The traffic, which is going to continue to increase, is going to kill that town," she said.

Gouge stressed Carroll County's commitment to containing suburban sprawl.

"After all this, we feel it is unfair to say to the citizens of Manchester, 'Forget it,' " Gouge said. "The people in Carroll County deserve a good life."

State planning officials disagreed with her assessment of the county's effort to control sprawl. Carroll County has had "fundamental problems" coping with the effects of unmanaged growth in the past decade, said Ronald M. Kreitner, director of the Maryland Office of Planning.

"We're going to try to use state resources to support a better pattern of growth," Kreitner told the board.

Environmental advocates and some Carroll County slow-growth proponents also urged the board not to overturn Glendening's decision on the bypass.

"Smart Growth calls for tough decisions. It will occasionally call for hurt feelings," said Neil Ridgely, a Finksburg resident and advocate of stricter growth controls.

Pub Date: 3/25/99

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