Council Hears Facilities Plan

Legislation Proposed To Guarantee Adequate Schools And Roads

January 26, 1992|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff writer

The County Council scheduled but didn't need a second night of hearings last week when it took up 10 pieces of legislation aimed at ensuring that the county's schools and roads can accommodate new growth.

Tomorrow's work session on the proposed adequate facilities legislation could take longer.

When presenting its case last week, James Eacker, chairman of the12-member commission of developers and civic leaders, took only 10 minutes to deliver the ordinance to the council.

The commission hasworked on the proposal for six hours a week throughout the past year.

Commission members contend that any major alteration could so upset the delicate balance of the proposal as to render it ineffective.They will be present tomorrow to answer objections raised in last week's hearing, which lasted until 12:33 a.m.

Detractors told the council last week that the proposal is already ineffective and urged members to kill it and begin work on a new one.

Even supporters urged the council to proceed with caution. Planning Board member Dale Schumacher said that while the package is "laudably technical," its success depends on a com

mitment of the county's financial resources "to properly review the traffic data and conduct the monitoring functions called for in the legislation."

A roads test is one of three main features in the legislative package. The test would determine whether intersections can accommodate traffic generated by a proposed development. If a proposal fails the roads test, developers could either make intersection improvements or pay a fee in order to proceed with their projects.

The other features are 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. If projects fail the school test, developers must wait four years beforeproceeding.

Nancy Hudson, speaking on behalf of the PTA Council, said the package is "a fair and decent compromise and we support it."

"PTA Council understands that the decision to test school capacity at only the elementary level was made with the assumption that the proposed new schools in the capital budget would be funded," she said.

If that assumption proves wrong because of state and county financial problems, "it will become imperative to expand the (ordinance) to include tests at the middle and high school levels," she said.

"We expect that county officials will monitor closely and act appropriately to ensure that school facilities will be adequate at all levels."

Detractors were not so sure. They object to the fact that the rolling average of 2,500 new homes a year is called for in the ordinance as a target rather than a ceiling.

They also object that housing for low- and moderate-income families might cease because all construction would be subject to the excise tax.

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