To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate?

Maryland Municipal League LogoAre you feeling threatened by a Comprehensive Plan that would increase residential density and encourage large, “Big Box Store” commercialization in Eldersburg?

Does it seem like the County’s planners are going to do what they want to the community where you live – whether you like it or not?

That’s not the way it is in Hampstead, Manchester, Mount Airy, New Windsor, Sykesville, Taneytown, Union Bridge and Westminster.

“No kidding. Why’s that?!”

Good question. It’s because they’re all incorporated cities and control their own zoning. That’s why. Compared to these cities, the unincorporated community of Eldersburg is way too easy to push around.

Welcome to Eldersburg Sign

It’s true, incorporated towns have a Mayor and City Council and will need to provide or contract for community services. Whatever the details, living in an incorporated town can more expensive than just being an unincorporated part of the County. And even if the cost of living in “The City of Eldersburg” are the same, there’s always the administrative overhead of running your own local government.

On the other hand, you’ll write your own master plan and determine your own zoning. It’ll be your city whose destiny you can determine for yourselves.

It’s no secret that Carroll County planners are running out of places where they can implement their vision for the County. They need Eldersburg to be the lynchpin of County economic and residential growth. But then there’s no saying that that’s not a good thing. The problem is that it’s not up to you, the people who live there.

The planners in Carroll County’s government, led now by Lynda Eisenberg, are good, experienced, hard-working professionals who deserve the respect and support of the people they serve. What they need is your advice and a Board of Commissioners that will insist on making impact analysis a part of the planning process. And planners need to focus more on bringing employers to the County. Retail activity doesn’t lead or generate growth. Bring more jobs to the county in non-retail sectors, then people will come, tax revenues will increase and commercialization will take care of itself.

As for the Planning and Zoning Commission? Theirs is a questionable, outdated function that seems to overlap with the responsibilities of the Board of Commissioners. The Commission is just a small panel of well-meaning people, with no real expertise or training applicable to the task – They’re not professional planners. – basically representing no one but themselves.


Sure. In this day and age, there’s no reason why the public can’t be involved en mass, reviewing and commenting on the planning process through online tools the County can easily and affordably implement.

The bottom line, as they say, is that important decisions about Eldersburg’s future are being made by a handful of people – however smart and well-intentioned – working part-time while you actually live in Eldersburg full-time. You have what the lawyers call “standing.” They don’t and that’s a problem.

In case you’re interested, use the link below to see and print the Municipal Incorporation Handbook from the Maryland Municipal League. (Sounds like something from Marvel, doesn’t it?)

Municipal Incorporation Handbook

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