The need for a bypass dominated a meeting last night of Manchester town officials and Carroll County commissioners. The wide-ranging session also included discussion of economic development, water and sewer resources, and neighborhood revitalization.
"We're a little community up here swimming upstream," said Councilman Joe Jordan. "We've got growth to the north in another state altogether. We can't do much about that, I feel like I spend a lot of time in a reactive mode."
"We've all been hoping for a long time for a bypass on Main Street," said Steven C. Horn, county planning director. "We agree with the town that a Manchester bypass is still a viable project. But the state doesn't want to build it."
The mayor and Town Council indicated that they would accept a two-lane, limited-access road, rather than the higher-priced road originally planned.
They were less than enthusiastic when Horn outlined state plans for a roundabout at routes 30 and 86, but said it would be better than a traffic light.
Manchester's Main Street is Route 30 -- the Hanover Pike -- and is heavily traveled by truckers and commuters from Pennsylvania to Baltimore. With about 18,000 vehicles a day using the highway, the town had anticipated a $70 million bypass.
But the bypass and other projects -- including a bypass in Westminster -- were killed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening's administration because they ran counter to the governor's Smart Growth policies to reduce sprawl.
Instead, the State Highway Administration has a program to work with towns to enhance Main Streets with improvements to intersections, constructing travel lanes and sidewalks, erecting signs and landscaping and putting up streetlights.
Councilman Daniel Riley praised the state effort in Manchester. Riley and other members of the town's Neighborhood Conservation Task Force and SHA officials are working together on the improvements.
Mayor Christopher B. D'Amario made it clear that the task force's work had nothing to do with the town's desire for a bypass.
Jack Lyburn, county director of economic development, said bypasses follow industry, and Manchester has expressed no interest in attracting large industrial plants.
Town officials said that attracting industry depends on finding additional sources of water.
D'Amario earlier had told the commissioner, "Water, water, water is our main priority. We need to find additional water."
Manchester must look harder for water sources because it has fewer underground reserves than Westminster and other towns to the west, which lie above the water-laden Wakefield marble.
Town Manager Philip L. Arbaugh said the town has spent $30,000 drilling since summer 1998 and found nothing usable.
"We made a hard choice to limit our population here, because we didn't have the water or sewer resources," said Councilman Brooks Rugemer. "Now, we're getting bit by it."