Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden wants to impose a three-year moratorium on new construction in a 3,000-acre section of Perry Hall where about 12,000 new homes are planned.
Prompted by a lack of adequate roads, sewers and schools, Mr. Hayden is asking the County Council to pass a law that would ban building in Honeygo -- an area bounded on the northwest by Belair Road, Gunpowder Falls on the north, Interstate 95 and Philadelphia Road on the southeast, and Honeygo Run stream and Chapel Road on the southwest.
Mr. Hayden's proposal exempts 300 new homes and condominiums already approved for a 166-acre Perry Hall Farms development on Forge Road. But the ban would block an additional 900 homes planned for that development as well as all other construction in the area.
It also would further delay construction of a new $3 million sewer system to serve the area, and the extension of Honeygo Boulevard to Belair Road, a combined $6.2 million project.
The move represents a major curtailment of plans for the county's eastern growth area around White Marsh, county officials said. But it also addresses the complaints of many community residents and local politicians, who have argued for years that new construction is outstripping the area's public facilities.
Mr. Hayden noted yesterday, for example, that school overcrowding is particularly acute in Perry Hall. All seven elementary schools in the area already are over capacity.
When the new Seven Oaks school opens in September, 1,000 classroom seats will have been added in the area over the past two years. But School Planner James Kraft says that on the first day, Seven Oaks already will be overcrowded.
Mr. Hayden said that without the building ban, the county would need more elementary school space, and possibly a new middle and high school in a few years as well.
Though the county owns an undersized lot across the street from Perry Hall Farms, it doesn't have the money to buy enough land to make it a full-sized site, or to build on it.
Mr. Hayden said he is committed to developing a plan to fix the problems in Perry Hall before the three years are up. But, "it's time to step back," the county executive said. "We can't put people [who live in the area] in this position."
Planning Director P. David Fields said the county is caught in a bind. If it allows the extension of Honeygo Boulevard to proceed to relieve traffic congestion, it also will encourage more home construction, which will exacerbate the congestion problem and further strain facilities such as schools and sewer lines.
The recession, meanwhile, and the severe state budget cuts have robbed the county of its ability to sell bonds already approved by the voters to provide the needed facilities.
Dorothy S. McMann, president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association, also supported the ban. "We're thrilled to death out here," she said.
Baltimore County already has a temporary ban on construction in areas where schools are more than 120 percent over capacity, but it expires in June.
The county also has a limited adequate facilities law that prevents new construction near badly congested intersections.
Despite both laws, complaints still have been logged in various parts of the county that traffic and school crowding are getting worse.