Development information shared; Council gives residents overview of planning


Finksburg residents have said they would like to know when and where development is planned long before ground is broken. They got a look at all new and proposed homes and businesses last night, through a visual data display.

The multimedia exhibit was created by Martin Schmidt, a member of the Finksburg Planning Area Council, who used data provided primarily by the U.S. Census Bureau, information that is available for every U.S. county.

The display showed the immediate area and the surrounding environs, about 8,985 acres that are home to more than 17,000. Schmidt pinpointed new subdivisions and those in various planning stages, mapping the outstanding building permits in the Finksburg area.

"This is an accurate presentation of the area we all call home," said Donald Hoffman, council president.

The display also detailed population distribution and offered information about median income and property values.

"We have folks of all different economic levels, and we need to learn how to work together," said Schmidt. "Demographics are important if you want to figure out how you should grow."

Finksburg, an unincorporated area along Route 140, considers itself a gateway community to Carroll County. Residents established the council, an unofficial liaison between residents and county government, to help them address issues that affect their quality of life. They have worked to improve water quality, schools, traffic, recreation and landscaping along the Route 140 corridor.

"I hope we can use all this data to do planning," said Schmidt. "We have grown by nearly 35 percent since 1990, a rate that is among the highest in the county."

Schmidt's presentation also defined the boundaries of the Watershed Protection Agreement, a longtime pact between Baltimore City, which owns Liberty Reservoir and the surrounding land, and Carroll and Baltimore counties. Carroll has insisted on changes to the wording in the agreement and has not reaffirmed the agreement since 1996.

Council members have consistently supported the city and have insisted on adherence to the exact wording in the 1984 agreement.

"The watershed affects water quality for about a third of Carroll County and about 42 percent of the county's population," said Schmidt.

Last night, members briefly discussed other proposed measures to ease water shortages in the South Carroll area.

"We want to ensure those improvements are for existing residents only, not for new development," said Hoffman.

The council also reviewed the county's proposed master plan -- its blueprint to guide growth.

Debbie Ridgely, a member of the county Planning Commission and a Finksburg resident, said the commission will thoroughly examine the master plan. "I would like to see much of what has been redlined by the county commissioners put back into the plan," Ridgely said.

Also, the council reiterated its demand for a community library. The commissioners have supported a Finksburg branch library but declined to provide funding in the coming fiscal year.

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