Carroll commissioners to plan for more affordable housing via 2025 Master Plan (2024)

Carroll County commissioners intend to focus the county’s next master plan onproviding more affordable housingthat is more in touch with what young families desire.

As the county begins updating its Master Plan, a guide to commercial, industrial and residential growth during the next decade, the commissioners say they want to consider what it would take to provide housing more suited for young families. They contend that unlike their parents, young people today balk at homes on large lots that require endless upkeep.

“If people aren’t looking to own that acre of land, how do we change or amend housing to work for that group of people,” District 3 Commissioner Tom Gordon III said last week during a briefing from the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning. “We are not, in my opinion, being very competitive now on a youth market. I’m seeing and hearing from various people that their kids are leaving and going to these other counties, because we don’t have the inventory. The reality to me is we want to cover a wide bandwidth and a portfolio of housing.”

Staff from the Planning and Zoning Department detailed the start of the Master Plan process last Thursday. The process, expected to take approximately 18 months, is an update to the county’s current Master Plan, developed in 2015.

A major change from the current plan, is that the county will include an outline of housing needs to help frame growth over the next decade.

A Carroll County Housing Study Project is under way to ask residents a series of questions about their housing situations, including describing current housing, whether they have moved in the last five years, and their opinion on the affordability of housing for seniors and young families.

The information obtained from the survey will be a part of the county’s Master Plan update.

“Since 1964, Carroll County has used a Master Plan to express its preferences and policies related to land use,” Hannah Weber, a comprehensive planner with the county’s Department of Planning said. “It’s really a tool to guide how the county directs its growth. Where that growth happens, and the different tools that are put in place to support those preferences and polices.”

This includes zoning regulations, roads, schools, water, sewer and environmental protection.

Master Plans are recognized as an essential way to ensure orderly growth and responsible use of resources so that the public health, safety and welfare of residents are protected, Weber said.

Before final adoption, the commissioners will hold work sessions, public forums, public hearings and consultations with the county’s eight municipalities.

“You definitely don’t want a document to come out a year-and-a-half from now, and then ask everybody ‘What do you think?'” Weber said. “This should be an ongoing discussion.

The 2015 master plan had 93 recommendations and 15 goals, which touched on everything from agricultural preservation to economic development and residential growth.

“There’s been a lot happening over the last 10 years in all those areas,” Weber said. “Ten years from now what would [commissioners] like to hold up as major accomplishments. Ten years from now we would like to be able to say, ‘We were able to tackle and achieve.'”

Commissioners’ President Ken Kiler, who represents District 2, disagreed with the assessment of new development.

“In my opinion, in the last 10 years Carroll County hasn’t grown much,” Kiler said. “We don’t have much commercial and industrial. I see other counties that have a much stronger base, which we’d like.”

Like Gordon, Kiler said there is currently not much “encouragement” by the county to provide affordable housing for young families. He asked planning staff to see what needs to be done to make that happen.

As a former president of the Carroll County Board of Education, Kiler said the county should not pressure the school system to redistrict students in order to accommodate new housing outlined in the Master Plan.

“In my opinion, we develop, and they figure out how to educate the kids,” he said.

District 5 Commissioner Ed Rothstein said consideration must be given to the costs involved in supporting new development over the next 10 years. Currently, the costs associated with the formation of the county’s new Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, and the implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a multibillion-dollar state law passed in 2021, are straining county finances, he said.

“Whenever we look at the growth and the expenses within a development, we should also be looking at the price tag associated with it, and where that revenue is coming from,” he said.

Carroll commissioners to plan for more affordable housing via 2025 Master Plan (2024)
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