Future of Liberty Reservoir; Carroll County: More negotiation needed between counties, city to address concerns on water, land use.


THE PERSISTENT battle over land use on the border between Carroll and Baltimore counties has taken another turn, this time with Baltimore City entering the fray.

The city has, in effect, declared a moratorium on development in the 160 square miles of Liberty Reservoir watershed it owns, most of which lies in Carroll County. But Carroll has designated areas around the sprawling watershed for rezoning as commercial-industrial sites, in particular 600 acres of "conservation" zoned land.

The result is that Carroll refuses to reaffirm the 20-year-old Watershed Management Agreement between the city and four metro counties. Carroll has declined to renew the document since 1990, arguing that Baltimore City and Baltimore County are trying to dictate land-use policy in Carroll.

The city says it is only protecting the quality of water that serves 1.6 million people in the region. Baltimore County has clashed with Carroll on other growth issues, striving to keep their common border free from development.

This clash of land-use vision between the jurisdictions has not produced a willingness to reach compromise solutions.

We think there is a basis -- and a need -- for compromise here. Carroll Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge is against the city agreement on the watershed, but says she is open to more discussion. T. Bryan McIntire, the Baltimore County councilman from the Liberty Reservoir area, says he would seek a compromise. The ball is in the city's court to enter into open negotiations.

Carroll can't divorce itself from the city's concerns about water quality, either. Its residents also use water from the reservoir, and the county wants to increase its draw on the city reservoir. So Carroll cannot easily abandon the accord.

Earnest negotiations are required by all sides to reach a solution that can satisfy all parties.

Pub Date: 9/09/99

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