Rehrmann vows to restrict growth

December 04, 1990|By S. M. Khalid | S. M. Khalid,Harford County Bureau of The Sun

BEL AIR — An article and photo caption in yesterday's editions of The Sun gave an incorrect date for the swearing-in ceremony of Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall. He was sworn in Sunday.

+ The Sun regrets the errors.

BEL AIR -- Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann told a crowd at her inauguration yesterday that she will draft legislation to restrict development in areas where roads and schools are overburdened.

Mrs. Rehrmann, 46, of Bel Air called on the County Council, the local legislative delegation, and the county's towns and businesses to support passage of the legislation, known as an adequate public facilities ordinance.


"Our county must manage its growth more effectively," she said. "In the weeks ahead, my administration will develop and begin to present the program for an adequate public facilities ordinance.

"Our quality of life is impacted by overcrowded schools, road congestion, lack of open space, water and sewer . . . ," Mrs. Rehrmann added. "The time is now and long overdue to address this problem."

Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Carroll, Montgomery and Prince George's counties already have adequate public facilities laws, and a similar measure is being considered in Howard County.

Other newly elected county executives inaugurated yesterday were Roger B. Hayden in Baltimore County, Charles I. Ecker in Howard County, Robert R. Neall in Anne Arundel County and Neal Potter in Montgomery County.

Mrs. Rehrmann, whose inaugural was attended by about 1,500 people -- including her longtime political ally Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md. -- gave no specifics about how her adequate-facilities bill would work.

But in other counties that have such measures, the laws generally restrict development in an area unless roads and schools meet standards designed to determine if they can accommodate more growth.

If the standards are not met, the developer may either contribute toward bringing the facilities up to snuff or delay the project until the county builds schools or makes road improvements.

Previous administrations and councils have emphasized the need for an effective adequate-facilities law that would steer development toward the designated growth area along the Route 24 corridor and require developers to share the costs of growth.

In 1988, outgoing Executive Habern W. Freeman Jr. submitted a bill that would have shifted much of the financial burden for road improvements to developers, but it was watered down by the council in the face of lobbying from the homebuilding industry.

Several members of the County Council, which has five new faces among its seven members, expressed support for a strong adequate-facilities bill.

"It's got to be our first order of business," said Councilwoman Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C, a newcomer to the council who made her name as a community activist fighting for more effective growth controls. "We want to make sure that whatever number of building permits we have that we also have adequate roads, sewer and schools," Ms. Pierno said. "I applaud Mrs. Rehrmann's call for a strong ordinance."

Mrs. Rehrmann also told the inaugural crowd she wants to improve public services and education while making government more cost-effective. She said she hopes to do that without increasing the tax burden on property owners, in part by broadening the tax base by attracting new industry.

She added that projections of an $18 million budget surplus for this year had not panned out and that the county is facing a break-even year at best. She appealed to Governor Schaefer and Senator Mikulski for federal and state help in obtaining more funding.

"Difficult times are ahead," said Mrs. Rehrmann, who served two terms in the House of Delegates. "It requires a unique challenge to be creative, to work together. It is a time of opportunity. A time to call upon all our resources to solve the problems facing us."

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