Threat to Morgan Run; Carroll County: Zoning modifications are needed, but not at the expense of the environment.


IF CARROLL County wants to expand and improve its tax base, it needs more land zoned for industrial development. The existing supply is minimal -- less than 3,000 acres -- and some parcels have no realistic hope of attracting industry.

So the county's effort to rezone more than 1,000 acres for industrial use is welcome. But endangering a prime environmental asset in the process is folly. County planners' proposal to rezone for industry 75 acres of woods and farmland near the state's Morgan Run Natural Environment area in South Carroll is the wrong approach.

Little Morgan Run is the finest fishing stream in the county. The scenic environmental area is a tribute to open space preservation. The Morgan Run watershed drains into Liberty Reservoir, the most important source of drinking water for the Baltimore metro community. The private parcel is desirable for farmland preservation. This is where the line must be drawn.

Economic development officials don't have an immediate prospect for the site. They simply want to add it to the "portfolio" of sites they can offer to industry.

Yes, the acreage is adjacent to an industrial park, the Central Maryland Distribution Center. But expansion increases the possibility of further degradation of Morgan Run: The Baltimore Metropolitan Council warns of rising levels of chloride in Morgan Run, a result of development.

Zoning land for industry does not assure it will be used for industry. Lots of industrial parcels near Routes 26 and 32 in Eldersburg have been used for commercial purposes. Thirty-two industrial acres in Sykesville were rezoned for dense residential use, despite objections from two industrial neighbors.

Morgan Run watershed is too precious an environmental asset for the county to endanger with development and pollution. Its protection must be the priority.

Pub Date: 9/29/99

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