Master plan likely to get board's OK


After nearly five years of planning and public meetings, the blueprint for Carroll County's growth will likely resemble the 125-page document rejected by the commissioners last year.

"I think a lot of what's in here is a waste, but I'm tired of fighting about it so I'll probably go along with this," Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier said of the proposed county master plan yesterday during a meeting with the county planning panel.

"I want to get this adopted and move on."

The five-member planning panel is expected to approve the master plan Tuesday and send it to the commissioners for review.

The commissioners have no deadline to act on the plan. They can adopt it, reject it or return it to the planning commission for further review, but they cannot make changes to it.

Carroll is under pressure from the state to update its master plan as quickly as possible.

Without a revised plan, state planning officials have said they may withhold more than $1 million this fiscal year, money that would help pay for parking and another ball field at Eldersburg Elementary School, lights for eight athletic fields at Freedom Park in Sykesville, and two soccer fields at Roberts Mill Park in Taneytown.

To speed adoption of the plan, the commissioners met with the planning panel yesterday to reach a consensus on wording that Frazier characterized as "ludicrous."

During yesterday's hour-long meeting, the planning panel agreed to rename the document's "strategies," instead calling them "objectives."

The panel also agreed to make it clear that the master plan is a guide - not a mandate - for development.

In April, the commissioners had suggested that the strategies be placed in a separate document, as a book of recommendations they could refer to but would not be required to follow. The planning panel refused.

Work on the master plan began in December 1995 after two decades of rapid residential growth, particularly along Route 26 at the county's southern strip.

Although nearly 150 residents - including professional planners - spent more than 2,100 hours in two years analyzing the information that formed the basis of the document, only one resident attended yesterday's meeting.

The planning panel approved the proposed master plan in June 1998 and sent it to the previous board of commissioners for consideration the next month.

In November of that year, the commissioners refused to take action on the plan, leaving it for the current board to review.

The master plan will establish the first new land-use guidelines in Carroll since 1964.

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