LOOKING AHEAD with a strategic plan is a good idea. So is following the plan.
That's the catch in the eight-goal document the Carroll County commissioners recently adopted to guide them through the remaining three years of their term.
Like the land-use Master Plan overhaul -- remember that shelved document? -- and other goals embraced by the commissioners, the proof is in actions, not in words.
Indeed, this strategy is a compendium of the three commissioners' campaign promises. It does not account for their differing perspectives on some major issues.
Everyone is for economic development and farmland preservation, better schools and roads. But when these objectives conflict, each commissioner will act on his or her own inclinations.
That's already been demonstrated in the controversial rezoning of the Rash brothers farm in Rolling Hills this summer.
Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Robin Bartlett Frazier voted in favor of turning the family farm into a housing subdivision. Julia Walsh Gouge voted against it. How this vote advanced the document's stated goal of "aggressive agricultural preservation" and encouraging family farming is a good question.
If the commissioners are serious about another goal, improvement of roads and a transportation master plan, it may help them avoid butting heads with the governor, who controls the highway-fund purse strings. They've had their conflicts with Annapolis in the past, with the expected adverse results for Carroll highway projects.
Streamlining the business development approval process is another primary goal. That's important for Carroll.
It's equally important to encourage public participation and notification -- another goal which is, unfortunately, easier stated than practiced, to judge by the recent past.