After meeting with local bankers for several hours Monday afternoon,County Council member Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, unveiled a bill thatwould continue the residential building cap until Sept. 15.
The bill would take effect upon passage. It would allow 1,251 building permits to be issued from then until the September cutoff date or until the council enacts an adequate facilities ordinance, whichever comes first.
Pendergrass' proposal would end the current two-tier system underwhich developers apply for and receive permit allocation certificates before obtaining building permits. Pendergrass wants permits issuedon a "first-come, first-served" basis.
Pendergrass said she prepared the bill to fulfill a campaign pledge to keep the residential building cap in place until the county enacted an adequate facilities law.
Under her proposal, the 1,251 permits would be split three ways-- 417 each for Columbia, eastern and western Howard County.
In addition to limiting the number of residential building permits that can be issued, the bill also would freeze plans already in the subdivision process.
Ordinarily, subdivision plan approval requires four steps. Pendergrass would allow plans to be approved at their current step only. Plans could not be advanced to the next level until Oct. 15 or the adoption of comprehensive rezoning of the western portion ofthe county, whichever comes first.
The bill appears to run contrary to one jointly introduced Monday night by Council Chairman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, and County Executive Charles I. Ecker, a Republican, both of whom say the slower pace of growth makes the growth cap unnecessary. Their bill would end the residential growth cap immediately upon passage.
Ecker said Tuesday that he has no problems with keeping the cap in effect. His problem, he said, was the permit allocationcertificates. He wanted them and the idea of restricting the allocations to particular areas done away with.
The thrust of the Ecker-Gray bill is elimination of the permit allocation system, Gray said.
The council voted 5-0 Monday to conduct a legislative session Jan. 22 to vote on the Gray-Ecker bill following a public hearing on both bills earlier that night.
Councilman Darrel Drown, R-2nd, who sat in on the meeting Pendergrass had with bankers, said he voted for theJan. 22 legislative session on the condition that the Pendergrass bill also would be considered that night.
Pendergrass said she votedfor the session "as a courtesy" to Gray but did not expect to be ready to vote that night on either bill. Pendergrass said that testimonythat night may lead to amendments to one or both bills and the council should have time to consider those amendments.
Gray said he intends to meet with bankers next week to discuss his version of the bill. Ecker met with them last week, Gray said.