Growth-control Bill Is Mired In Conflict

March 03, 1991|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

ANNAPOLIS — Two Carroll delegates who will vote in committee on legislation to control growth in the state may cancel out each other's votes.

Delegate Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, said if he had to vote Thursday after a hearing on a bill based on the 2020 report, he would have voted for the bill with some changes.

Delegate Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Frederick, Howard, said hestrongly opposes the bill, which is based on a study by the Governor's Commission on Growth in the Chesapeake Bay Region.

Thursday, the House Environmental Matters Committee, on which LaMotte and Elliottsit, heard testimony from 1 p.m. into the evening from farmers, environmentalists, home builders, bankers and others about the issue.

About 20 people from Carroll County, mostly farmers, attended the hearing.

Tuesday, the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee heard similar testimony. Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore, sits on that committee and has said he opposes the bill.

The 2020 report, a plan to save open space from suburban sprawl and protect the bay, is meant to strike a balance between growth and environmental needs. If enacted, it would dictate that growth be clustered around municipalities and that residential development in agriculture zones be limited to one home per 20 acres.

Despite the outpouring oftestimony from opponents and supporters, LaMotte and Elliott said the bill does not need to be delayed for study during the summer.

LaMotte said much of the testimony Thursday was "misleading. There werea lot of self-serving statements made."

He said he was disappointed by testimony from the Maryland Association of Counties, which has proposed extensive amendments to the bill. County officials testifiedfor an hour, but did not explain their amendments, LaMotte said.

"I find that to be a total waste of time," he said. Delegates needed "a translator" to explain the amendments, he said.

Carroll County Commissioner President Donald I. Dell and county Planning Director Edmund R. "Ned" Cueman both testified as part of MACO's presentation.

Cueman said that legislators need to take more time to study the bill and that a grandfather clause which would allow some subdivision on agriculture land is "the meanest grandfather I've ever seen."

MACO also opposes a section of the bill that would give the state, not the counties, authority to make final land-use decisions.

Farmers say their property values would plummet if the state dictated zoning.

Outside the hearing building, farmers had placed signs that said,"People live off farms, not bluefish, sailboats and yachts," and "20acre zoning is for the rich."

LaMotte said farmers probably have overstated their losses, "but I really do understand their concerns."

Tuesday, representatives from the Maryland Bankers Association testified that farmland values would decrease under more restrictive zoning, which might make it harder for farmers to repay loans.

Washington consultant Robert J. Gray, who studied the impact of the 2020 bill on farmland values at the request of the state planning office, said more restrictive zoning has not adversely affected property values.

Baltimore County has restricted zoning to one home per 50 acresin agriculture zones, and LaMotte said he has not seen a decrease inlending to farmers.

Carroll resident Deanna D. Hofmann testified for the bill.

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