About 100 angry South Carroll residents gathered in Westminster yesterday to protest the proposed rezoning of two rural properties - a total of about 288 acres - for industrial use.
"My concern is how this change is going to impact the residences and neighbors," Gail Holliday told the county commissioners during a public hearing yesterday. She lives next to one of the Eldersburg-area parcels under consideration for a land-use change.
In all, the commissioners are considering rezoning eight properties. Five of the sites - about 543 acres, including the two South Carroll properties - would be zoned for industrial use, and three properties - about 38 acres - would be zoned for commercial use.
"I question Carroll County's ability to follow through with the plans that are being presented tonight," Holliday said. "The existing industrial zones allow all kinds of development."
Developers can establish about 50 types of businesses - from a clothing boutique to an athletic club - on Carroll's industrial properties.
Ideally, the land should be used for heavy industry or light manufacturing and distribution.
In South Carroll, the county's most populous area with 30,000 residents, land zoned for industrial use has been used for a Merritt athletic club, a Wal-Mart and Eldersburg Marketplace, a $35 million shopping center.
Congestion, water fears
The buildup of shopping strips is clogging roads, according to critics of the trend.
One by one, about 20 South Carroll residents addressed the commissioners to complain about the congestion.
Several residents mentioned concern about possible contamination of their well water.
Land for industry sought
The commissioners decided in April to move forward with a comprehensive countywide rezoning to expand Carroll's short supply of marketable industrial land.
Carroll has fewer than 1,000 acres of industrial land, and about 800 acres of it is not marketable because it lacks access to public water or sewer service.
To encourage commercial and industrial growth - the kind of projects that generate substantial revenue - the commissioners hope to carve industrial parks out of land that is mostly rural.
Master plan reviewed
The properties discussed yesterday were among 14 that were identified by the Economic Development Commission in 1998 as potential sites for commercial and industrial growth.
The commissioners revived plans to rezone those properties during their nine-month review of Carroll's proposed master plan, a blueprint for Carroll's growth and development.
The county planning commission is reviewing the 125-page document.