Realtors, Builders Disagree On Buyer-notification Bill

Proposal Called Good Idea, Technical Details Debated

March 20, 1991|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff writer

Representatives of the county Board of Realtors and the county homebuilders association disagreed Monday on the merits of a bill that would require sellers to tell home buyers about the county's plans for future development.

But apart from Realtor spokesman Vivian Feen, most who testified at a County Council hearing on the bill agreed withformer homebuilders' president John Liparini that the bill is a goodidea.

The bill is needed, said council member Paul R. Farragut, D-4th, because "many people were coming to us and telling us they were not apprised" of roads or development planned for their neighborhoods.

Farragut said the bill he fashioned with Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, would increase home buyers' knowledge by "encouraging people to come tothe Department of Planning and Zoning and look at land use."

Specifically, sellers would have to provide buyers with the latest General Plan maps and a "conspicuous notice" advising buyers to call or visit the planning and zoning office for "the most recent and . . . detailed information."

If those who came before the council to complain about changes in their neighborhood had this information at the time they bought their homes, it "would have solved a lot of problems," Farragut said.

Liparini, a developer testifying on behalf of the homebuilders, agreed.

He said the bill would keep the General Plan before the public rather than "on the shelf until (the county is) ready to amend it."

Liparini's only quibble was that the bill "shouldmake it clear that the person providing the maps is not responsible for explaining them or for their content."

Farragut called Liparini's support a "pleasant surprise."

Feen objected to the bill alongtechnical lines, saying it was an amendment to old law rather than anew bill. She suggested the council start over and require an addendum that would allow purchasers to cancel a sale if they are not advised to inquire about land use changes at the zoning office.

Columbia resident Alan Kurland, a real estate broker who does business outside the county, compared the council bill to "using a nuclear bomb to kill a gnat."

Kurland said the bill was creating a possible litigious situation unless it was changed to require the buyer to get map information prior to signing a contract rather than afterward.

Farragut said he would be willing to consider Kurland's suggestion.

Inother council activity, Pendergrass told budget administrator Raymond S. Wacks she sees no reason to vote now to allow the county to borrow up to $7 million from its capital fund in order to avoid an end-of-the year operating deficit.

By law, the county cannot end the year with a deficit.

Wacks said the administration needs to know now if borrowing authority will be granted so that it can decide whether to propose repayment of the loan with interest in the fiscal 1992 budget it will present the council April 19.

Pendergrass said the council could authorize a loan as late as June, if necessary. She said that by saying "no" to the request now, the council would force the administration to attempt to solve its potential deficit problem some other way.

Pendergrass also said she was "inclined to table" an administration bill asking permission to divert $800,000 in cable television franchise fees next year to the general fund. The fees are part of a fund reserved for the exclusive use of the county's government and educational channels.

The council also heard testimony on a bill that would reduce from 1 percent to .5 percent the discount citizens receive for paying their property taxes in July instead of September. Such a move would save $350,000 to $400,000, Wacks said.

The bill, and companion legislation sponsored by Gray to accomplish the same goal with different percentages, were opposed by two residents who labeled the proposals a hidden tax increase.

"If you have to increase the tax rate, do it honestly," Roy Ferguson told the council.

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