Two road extensions won't be recommended by planning commission; Panel notes environment, residents' concerns in adjusting Freedom Plan


Noting environmental and other concerns, the county planning commission has recommended the removal of two disputed road projects from a plan to guide growth in the Freedom area, Carroll's most populous region.

The extensions of Marriottsville Road and Caren Drive will not be part of the Freedom Area Comprehensive Plan, which is being reviewed by the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission. Despite longtime plans, Caren Drive will not go through an industrial park and Marriottsville Road will not go beyond where it is now, said Raj Williams, county planner.

"The planning commission decided not to include Marriottsville Road on the Freedom Plan because of impacts on the water quality at the Liberty Reservoir," said Steven Horn, county director of planning. "The commission decided not to pursue the Caren Drive connection through industrial property."

The two projects were among 19 connector roads planned 22 years ago -- but never built -- to relieve traffic on Routes 26 and 32, major arteries through Freedom, which includes Eldersburg and Sykesville. Since the original plan was formed in 1977, the population has doubled to more than 28,000, but roads have not kept pace.

More than 80 percent of residents commute to jobs outside Carroll, and they are demanding improvements, but not at the expense of their neighborhoods or the environment.

At a public hearing that drew nearly 500 people in January, residents decried several of the road projects, calling them unsafe, environmentally unsound and a boon to developers. Much of the opposition centered on Caren Drive and Marriottsville Road. Those extensions generated petitions, letters to the commission and many comments.

"We have to be sensitive to the comments of residents," said Horn.

Residents of Todd Lane petitioned against extending Marriottsville Road, and residents of the Edgewood subdivision submitted 210 signatures opposing changes to Caren Drive.

The plan called for extending Caren Drive, which starts at Bartholow Road and ends in a cul-de-sac, through industrial property to Liberty Road. Residents of the Edgewood subdivision said the changes would bring truck traffic from the highway into neighborhoods.

"The extension will most likely severely disrupt our sense of safety as the volume of traffic and speeders increases," residents wrote in their petition.

Commission members recently toured proposed road sites in South Carroll and reached a similar conclusion for Caren Drive.

"The number of driveways, the narrowness of the road, the proximity of houses to the road and connecting residential property to industrial all weighed in our decision," said Thomas Hiltz, a planning commission member. "It is amazing how close to the road these houses are. The tour was enlightening. We could see how the majority of the residents just did not support this."

The proposed $884,000 extension of Marriottsville Road from Snowden Creek Road north across Liberty Road to Todd Lane met with similar opposition from residents. It would probably add a traffic light to the crowded corridor, which has eight such lights in less than a mile.

The extension also raised environmental concerns for the reservoir, which supplies water to more than 6,000 households in South Carroll. Construction was to begin within a few hundred yards of the shoreline and would cross two streams that flow into the reservoir.

The project would also need the approval of Baltimore, which owns the reservoir. City officials have said they oppose any construction in the watershed.

"The driver was the environment in our decision," said Hiltz. "This is a complex, challenging issue, and dealing with opposition from Baltimore City may have been too difficult to overcome."

The planning commission will continue its review of the Freedom Plan at 7 p.m. today in the media center of Liberty High School. Members will consider several other pending road projects and land-use issues before making final recommendations.

It will be at least mid-May before the plan goes to the county commissioners for a decision on adoption, officials said.

Pub Date: 3/30/99

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