Council Says Yes, But Not Now, To Facilities Bill

October 21, 1990|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff writer

There will not be an adequate facilities ordinance enacted in Howard County this year.

On Friday, the county council wrote a resolution that will put the legislation on hold until February at the earliest. The council is expected to vote on that resolution Oct. 29.

The delay does not mean the council is dropping the idea, however. The council pledges in its resolution to work on the legislation during November and December in concert with "the county executive, the administration, the consultant and the public."

The resolution says the council is "committed to requiring adequate roads and schools as a condition of subdivision or land development approval" and that it plans to enact an adequate public facilities bill no later than March 4, 1991.

If for some reason the council is unable to meet its March 4 deadline, then the county's ceiling on housing starts -- no more than 2,500 a year -- will be extended until an adequate facilities bill and the manuals accompanying it become law, the council promises.

The resolution grew out of two evenings of hearings that extended past midnight last week and a four-hour "round-table" work session during the day with business and civic leaders.

Nearly all the participants found fault with some portion of either the administration's bill or the manuals accompanying it, and urged the council to amend it.

Civic leaders had wanted the council to approve the bill and the manuals Oct. 29, and developers had wanted them to postpone it until after the Nov.

6 election. Both groups agreed that a resolution committing the council to passage of an adequate facilities bill by a specified date would be an acceptable compromise.

Those who wanted to amend the bill had argued that it was too important to rush into law. The council, caught in a time bind since it cannot hold a November legislative session in an election year, agreed.

Some had seen the council's scheduling the bill for a vote Oct. 29 as an election year ploy designed to give council members a record to run on.

Regardless, the resolution may serve them even better. It can be interpreted as an election year promise committing incumbents, if reelected, to an adequate facilities law by March 4 -- or if that can't be accomplished, to an extension of the growth cap until an adequate facilities law takes effect.

Since one council cannot commit another council to a specific course of action, the incumbents could be looking to collect votes from residents who want to see action on a law requiring adequate roads and schools as a condition of development.

Council challengers Michael Deets, Darrell Drown and Susan Scheidt said they would honor the timetable if elected. Challenger Dennis Schrader could not be reached for comment.

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