Waffling over Growth HOWARD COUNTY

January 29, 1993

First there was one. Now there are three -- or is it two? The list of Howard County Council members who have waffled in an attempt to placate the rabble of no-growth advocates in the county is ever changing.

Council Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass and Councilman Darrel Drown joined the ranks this week, proposing an amendment that would cap the level of residential growth in the county for a decade, beginning in 1996. The cap would produce less growth than is currently called for in the county general plan.

Ms. Pendergrass and Mr. Drown have joined forces in this endeavor, even though both council members voted in favor of adequate facilities legislation last year that was supposed to put an end to squabbling over the future growth of the county.

Both council members now say they have reservations about a planning department proposal to implement the general plan, particularly its impact on school enrollment.

None of this comes as a surprise. The clamor created by no-growth forces has become increasingly discordant, enough for some council members to turn tail and run.

Councilman Charles Feaga was the first to do so when he proposed that the county abandon plans for a mixed-use development in Fulton in southwest Howard. He followed that with a compromise proposal that would reduce the amount of development that could occur in the area.

Despite his attempts, Mr. Feaga received a severe bruising from no-growther proponents, who were hardly interested in compromise. Mr. Feaga has now abandoned all attempts at consoling those forces and says he favors a Fulton mixed-use development.

Ms. Pendergrass and Mr. Drown should take note of Mr. Feaga's experience. When the demands are unreasonable, compromise may not be an option worth pursuing.

Further, the adequate facilities legislation approved last year was adopted after months of careful consideration and deference to community concerns. The Pendergrass-Drown proposal ought to receive the same kind of scrutiny before being seriously considered. To do otherwise may compromise decisions the council has already made in an effort to control growth and ensure the county's financial viability in future years.

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