Howard could cut its growth rate in long-range plan Councilwoman says amendment may be coming

January 20, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

The County Council expects to amend the 1990 General Plan to reduce the projected growth rate over the next decade, Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass said last night.

Ms. Pendergrass, D-1st, was responding to a suggestion from Greg Brown, president of the Cherry Tree Farm Neighborhood Organization in southeastern Howard.

"I recommend the council make a dramatic move" to lower the annual growth rate of 2,500 new homes over the next 15 years that is called for in the general plan, Mr. Brown said.

"I think we're looking at an amendment that would do just that," Ms. Pendergrass told him.

Like most of the more than 115 people at last night's public hearing, Mr. Brown had planned to testify in support of a resolution by Councilman Charles C. Feaga, R-5th, to amend the general plan and do away with a so-called mixed use development in Fulton.

Opposition to the mixed use proposal arose during discussion of a resolution to approve the county's housing unit allocation chart.

The chart is a 14-year estimate from the county Planning and Zoning Department regarding the number of housing units that will be built in various parts of the county.

"How can these numbers be?" Ms. Pendergrass asked. "These numbers [for the southeast portion of the county] are too high."

The alternative to those numbers, said County Planning Director Joseph W. Rutter Jr., is either to slow the pace of growth or redistribute the units to another part of the county.

The crowd applauded his suggestion to slow the pace of growth.

"We were told that we would have a cap of 2,500" new homes annually, said John W. Taylor of Highland, founder and president of Howard Countians for Responsible Growth. "Suddenly, it's not a target, but a goal. Now, we're talking about 2,700 and 3,000 units. We have a real credibility problem here."

Mr. Rutter had testified that 2,500 was to be a rolling average that would grow above 2,500 units until 2005, at which time it would drop below that number.

"There's a shell game going on here. We're not getting the real story," Mr. Taylor said. He called on the council to rewrite completely the county's adequate facilities law.

In general, the law requires that an area have adequate roads and classroom space before a developer can build.

The problem is not with the adequate facilities law, said Jean Iampieri Quattlebaum, president of Citizens Allied for Rational Expansion. "The underlying assumptions in the general plan is where the problem is," she said.

The numbers in the general plan are bad, but the mixed-use concept is worse, said Brenda Katz of north Laurel. "We're going to have development," she said, "but mixed-use proposes an onslaught."

The mixed-use concept calls for shops, houses, apartments and businesses to be closely joined in the same development.

"I think I see a good bit of support" for the resolution to drop the Fulton mixed-use designation from the general plan, Mr. Feaga said, adding that his proposal would permit more growth in the area than current zoning does but not as much as the mixed-use designation would allow.

Mr. Feaga said he did not propose dropping mixed-use designations for Jessup, northern Laurel and southern Ellicott City from the general plan because he believes each area is different and should be considered separately.

The council will vote Feb. 1 on the legislation discussed last night.

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