Public hearing required before commissioners can vote on master plan


Carroll residents will have one more chance to comment on a proposed master plan, the county's first new development guidelines since 1964, before the commissioners take action.

A public hearing on the latest version of the plan - initially drafted more than two years ago - will be held this fall. A date has not been set. Under state law, the hearing must be held before the commissioners can update the zoning map that accompanies the 117-page plan.

The commissioners expressed frustration about having to delay adoption of the document, which was approved by the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission last week.

"I don't really want to wait," said Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier. "I don't think we've changed a lot. We've just clarified that the strategies and policies are recommendations. I think the citizens should be happy with that."

The latest version of the plan closely resembles the original document, drafted during two years of public meetings. It directs development to the county's eight towns and Finksburg and includes planning policies drafted during two years of public discussion.

The planning panel submitted the original document to the commissioners in July 1998. The commissioners deferred action until a new board was elected.

During its eight-month review, the current board of commissioners cut all planning strategies and policies from the plan. The commissioners wanted those items listed in a separate document, as a book of recommendations that they could refer to but were not required to adopt.

The planning panel refused to embrace that idea.

In the end, changes to the original document were minor. In the latest version, all of the strategies were renamed recommendations. The change in language is expected to make it clear to residents that the master plan is a guide - not a mandate - for development.

As they move forward with the public hearing, the commissioners are pushing to rezone eight properties - totaling 683 mostly rural acres - for business development. Six of the properties are in the Liberty Reservoir Watershed Area.

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