Perry Hall proposal falters Council seems likely to reject building ban

April 29, 1992|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

The Baltimore County Council, elected in 1990 partly on a wave of voter anger over uncontrolled growth and congestion caused by development, appeared set yesterday to reject a proposed three-year building moratorium in Perry Hall.

Echoing the objections of builders and developers to the three-year building ban on 3,000 acres, a majority of the seven council members went on record as opposing it. Only the two freshman members, Berchie Lee Manley, R-1st, and Vincent Gardina, D-5th, said they supported the moratorium. Mr. Gardina, whose district is directly affected, was not at yesterday's meeting, but he submitted a written statement.

The proposed ban in Perry Hall was offered early last month by County Executive Roger B. Hayden in response to complaints about overcrowded schools and services not keeping pace with new construction. The bill before the council affects an area bounded by Belair Road on the northwest, Gunpowder Falls on the north, Interstate 95 and Philadelphia Road on the southeast and Honeygo Run and Chapel Road on the southwest.

"This [the building ban] has potential countywide impact," objected Towson's councilman Douglas B. Riley, R-4th, who said he was concerned that Baltimore County "does not have the strongest pro-business image."

Defeating the Perry Hall moratorium, Mr. Riley said, "would be a symbolic message that we're not going to shut down business in Baltimore County."

Councilmen Donald Mason, D-7th, and Melvin G. Mintz, D-2nd, both said they agreed with Councilman C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III, D-3rd, who earlier had argued against the proposed moratorium. Council Chairman William A. Howard IV, R-6th, also questioned the need for a moratorium but did not say how he would vote.

Mr. Ruppersberger suggested negotiations between builders or developers on the one hand and the residents with complaints about congestion on the other. But Baltimore County's planning director, P. David Fields, said such negotiating would not work without the time and pressure for controls provided by a moratorium.

The bill before the council represents an effort to plan for development before it happens instead of trying to play catch-up with roads, sewers, schools and recreational facilities, administration officials told the council members.

But several members said neither they nor developers were included in the administration's planning of the bill, causing resentment over it from the start.

Five council votes are needed to approve the bill at Monday night's session. Faced with what appeared to be overwhelming opposition yesterday, county administrative officer Merreen E. Kelly said "there is no-back-up plan" if the bill fails.

Mr. Fields said the Hayden administration had spent more than five months trying to find some method other than a temporary moratorium as a last resort to address the Perry Hall congestion problem, but concluded that there was no other way.

If Baltimore County is not given the time to produce a plan for providing adequate services on the mostly undeveloped land now, Mr. Fields said, future congestion will only be worse.

Dorothy McMann, president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association, gave Mr. Howard petitions bearing nearly 2,000 signatures of residents favoring the moratorium. She said she had gathered the names in just two days.

She told the council that planning had failed and that congestion was killing small business in Perry Hall. "Belair Road looks like a dump," she said.

Angered at the direction of the council's discussion, she called the members' opposition to a moratorium "business as usual" and added, "I'm disappointed in the talk I heard today."

Not disappointed, however, was a group of developers, attorneys and business leaders who listened to yesterday's Oebate. They included Nick Greaves, director of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, and Stephen R. Smith, president HTC of the county's chapter of the Homebuilders Association of Maryland, who said of the proposed ban, "It's terrible."

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