County Commissioners Consider Year-long Moratorium

October 14, 1990|By Adam Sachs and Kerry O'Rourke | Adam Sachs and Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writers

The County Commissioners are considering deferring residential development or mining expansion in limestone areas for up to one year, even though planners recommended against a similar proposal last year.

The commissioners have tentatively scheduled a public hearing for Nov. 5 to discuss a zoning amendment that would defer applications for construction projects or new mining operations for 12 months or until the county completes a mineral mining plan, whichever comes first.

Wakefield Valley, the mineral-rich region between Westminster and New Windsor, would be affected by the amendment, along with some other areas in west-central Carroll.

The proposed amendment would not preclude mining expansions where quarry companies have submitted applications to the county and received state permits, said Solveig Smith, zoning administrator. The Union Bridge-based Lehigh Portland Cement Co. and Genstar Stone Products Co. have received permits to expand their operations.

The Arundel Corp. has expressed interest in opening a new quarry in the area, but has been stalled in court battles with the county and doesn't have state permits.

The amendment would protect quarry company interests, current residents and future homeowners in the region while the county develops its mining plan, say county officials.

Lehigh Plant Manager David H. Roush said he was glad residential areas were included in the amendment "so people won't say 'why did the county let us build here so close' " to a quarry area.

William B. Dulany, an attorney for the Arundel Corp., said a long-term moratorium could have a "drastic" effect on company plans.

Bernard L. Grove, a vice president at Genstar, said the company does not object to the amendment.

Planners began working on the mining plan in August, once the Wakefield Valley Study Committee completed its report analyzing mining's impact on the county's economy and environment.

The New Windsor Community Action Project, a citizens group concerned that mining expansions could damage their property and water supplies, urged the County Commissioners last year to impose a moratorium on new quarry operations. The commissioners sent the request to the County Planning and Zoning Commission, which rejected the proposal in July 1989.

That proposal did not include residential development.

Commissioners John L. Armacost and Julia W. Gouge opposed a moratorium last year, but agreed Tuesday to have a public hearing.

Commissioner Jeff Griffith said he hoped the amendment could be adopted before the Nov. 6 general election "so the next Board of County Commissioners won't have to deal with it." It could take new commissioners one year or more to grasp the situation, and "by then it could be too late," he said. "It's our responsibility."

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