Groups Petition To Place Adequate Facilities Law On Ballot

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

Two lobbying groups will attempt to put portions of the adequate facilities law on hold at least until November.

Representatives of Citizens Allied for Rational Expansion and Howard Countians for Responsible Growth said the recently enacted ordinance is not in the best interest of the county.

The five-bill, five-resolution legislative package has three mainfeatures: a roads test to determine if intersections can accommodatetraffic generated by a proposed development; a schools test to determine if 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. A developer who failed the roads test could proceed by either paying a feeor improving the intersection. But if the schools test is failed, the developer must wait four years before proceeding.

The groups plan to circulate a petition that, if successful, would put the excise tax and the roads test on the ballot this fall.

To get the law on the ballot, the groups would have to get 5 percent of the voters -- 4,600 -- to sign their petition by May 15, provided half sign before April 15. If the petition is successful, the law would be held in abeyance until after the November election.

Getting the required numberof signatures should not be a problem, said John W. Taylor, president of Howard Countians for Responsible Growth.

"This package requires county taxpayers to pay for up-zoning," Taylor said. "I'd be surprised if we have to go into a lot of detail. All we need to do is ask people, 'Do you want an opportunity to vote on whether to have a building excise tax in Howard County?' "

Taylor said the two groups also oppose a requirement that development be consistent with the general plan. The requirement's target of 2,500 new residential units a year allows too much growth, Taylor said.

The two groups are challenging portions of the adequate facilities legislation rather than the entire bill because "both civic groups recognize the need for government to provide roads and infrastructure," Taylor said.

"It's a matter of degree. We're leaving the school requirement alone, although we would like to see it improved," Taylor said. "I'd rather see developers pay a larger share of infrastructure costs through impact fees than a slush fund for road building."

The 12-member commission of developers, civic leaders, school officials and county employees that spent a year working on the ordinance has argued that the act is sucha delicate compromise that any major change would throw it out of kilter.

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