Wakefield Valley Moratorium To Allow Home Building

November 28, 1990|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

The County Commissioners Tuesday passed a development moratorium in the Wakefield Valley area that will allow some home building activity.

The law will prohibit further subdivision and mining expansion in the area, but won't stop landowners from obtaining building permits on land that's already been subdivided.

Outgoing Commissioner President John L. Armacost cast the lone vote against the measure.

"It's so watered down now, we don't need a deferral period, and so should go along as is," he said.

The law was designed to halt development until the county decides how to handle mineral resources in Wakefield Valley, a mineral-rich area between Westminster and New Windsor.

The county is writing a mineral mining plan that's expected to be finished in nine months.

The proposed law originally prohibited landowners from subdividing plots within a half-mile radius of the three mining areas and from obtaining building permits and zoning certificates for a year or until the mining plan was finished.

But after hearing comments from landowners at a public hearing Nov. 5, the commissioners decided to amend the law, County Attorney Charles W.

"Chuck" Thompson Jr. said.

Some landowners testified a moratorium would mean they couldn't sell their land as they had planned and would lose money; others said their plans to build would have to be postponed until the moratorium was lifted.

The law includes two provisions to inform people who plan to build in the area that they are near a mineral resource zone where mining activities, including the use of explosives, are happening.

The County Department of Permits and Regulations will put a note on all building permits issued in the area explaining the mining activities, and, after Dec. 1, any contract for sale of land in the area must contain a statement in bold type saying the property is within a mining zone.

Charles O. Fisher Sr. of Westminster, an attorney for Genstar Stone Products Co., said the company could bring legal action against the county because the law doesn't include an exception from the moratorium for activity at the company's proposed third pit.

If the company is ready to move forward with plans for the pit in the coming year, the moratorium could cause problems, he said.

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