I feel sorry for the Carroll family. For most of their lives Philip and Camilla Carroll have watched as, one by one, neighboring farms became subdivisions. They have witnessed firsthand the dramatic transformation of Howard County over the last forty years. The 892 acre farm surrounding Doughoregan Manor in Ellicott City is all that remains of an estate that once comprised 10,000 acres.
892 acres is pretty small as farms go. It certainly isn’t large enough of an operation to sustain the upkeep of the almost 300 year old manor house and other historic buildings on the property. The end game for the manors farming days is here. Development has now become their most viable option. That must be a hard reality for a family who has been stewards of this land since the founding of the country.
In an effort to preserve as much as the remaining estate for future generations, the family has proposed a modest development program that would put 300 single family homes on 186 acres, give 36 acres to expand Kiwanis Wallas Park, place 500 acres into the county Agriculture Preservation Program and keep 90 acres surrounding the manor house for the family, presumably in some sort of historic trust.
I label this as a modest plan because if they so choose to do so, the Carrolls could spread 400 homes over the entire estate as a matter of right under existing zoning.
Predictably, even this modest program has drawn fire from their neighbors. According to this story by Larry Carson in The Sun today, The Chateau Ridge Lake Community Association “tried to block or delay consideration of another 500 acres of the historic estate for inclusion in the county's Agricultural Preservation program.”
“Despite that, county officials said the tract was included among those the Agricultural Land Preservation Board deemed desirable in a five-hour meeting Monday at the county fairgrounds.”
Round one goes to the Carrolls but the fight has only just begun.
“Victor A. Illenda, president of the 190-home community association, said his group intends to hire a lawyer and seek allies among residents who live along other borders of the nearly three-century-old estate to stop the clustering plan.”
Ironically, one of their main objections to the Carrolls plan is the single entrance to the proposed new home sites from Frederick Road yet they also oppose providing access through their neighborhood. “The Chateau Ridge residents vehemently oppose any access to the property through their community, however.”