Facilities Pledge Filled After 14 Months

Council To Address Development Impact

January 19, 1992|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff writer

The County Council, which pledged 14 months ago to take up adequate facilities legislation, will finally get around to it Tuesday night.

Believing that residents wanted to slow the county's development, council members promised in the 1990 election to take up adequate facilities legislation shortly after they took office.

What happened instead is that the Ecker administration began anew, appointing a 12-member commission of developers, civic leaders, school officials and county employees to devise an adequate facilities plan.

The commission took a year to finish its work. It unveiled a plan in December and took it to the planning board for review earlierthis month. The planning board will hold a work session on the proposal Tuesday and present its recommendations to the council that night.

Until now, the plan has emerged unscathed -- which is what the commission has been lobbying for. Commission members say the plan is so delicately balanced that even minor adjustments might throw it out of whack.

The plan has three main features: a roads test to determine whether intersections can accommodate traffic generated by a proposed development; a school test to determine whether nearby schools will be overcrowded when new residents move into a proposed development' and an excise tax imposed on all new residential and commercial construction. The excise tax money would be used to complete major highway projects anywhere in the county.

The commission's hearings on the proposal were sparsely attended. Until now, the commission's toughest audience was the county's General Assembly delegation, which wanted to tinker with the proposal but resisted the temptation. The council is expected to experience the same temptation.

The other bill expected to draw comment at the council's public hearing Tuesday is aproposal to change the criteria for accepting properties into the county's farmland preservation program.

The program still has about $15 million to acquire properties -- a cache several officials would like to see used differently. Some want to use the money for other purposes to help the county get through its financial crisis. Others want to continue to use the money to keep properties from development, but limit acquisition to large parcels. The bill to be discussed Tuesday would do just that.

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