Council balks at Pendergrass effort to lower estimate of housing starts

February 02, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

Over the objections of its chairwoman, the County Council voted 3-1 last night to accept the planning and zoning department's housing projections for the decade beginning in 1996.

Council Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, wanted to postpone a vote on the projections until next month, when she hoped to amend them downward.

Ms. Pendergrass wanted to limit residential housing starts to 2,500 a year for the decade beginning in 1996. Had the council agreed with her, planning department projections for the decade would have been reduced by 8.4 percent.

"There was an agreement to table this," Ms. Pendergrass said, but Councilman Darrel Drown, R-2nd, changed his mind at the last minute. "I'm a little disappointed we didn't have more time to study this," she said.

Mr. Drown had indicated at a work session last week that he would support the housing cap proposed by Ms. Pendergrass. He changed his mind, he said, after talking with members of the commission that developed the county's adequate-facilities law.

The law requires the planning department to develop decade-long housing projections in accordance with the 1990 general plan.

Mr. Drown said commission members told him that if the planning department's numbers are changed now, "it would open up a free-for-all" debate on the general plan.

"My goal is not to reopen the process," he said.

Councilman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, objected to the Pendergrass proposal on procedural grounds. "I'd like to point out that the numbers we're working with are the numbers approved [in 1990] by most of the members of this council" when the general plan was approved in 1990, Mr. Gray said.

"I went through a firestorm to get a rolling average" of 2,500 units a year for housing starts, Ms. Pendergrass said. "I don't understand [how more than 2,500 units a year] is a rolling average," she said.

Although the general plan limits residential growth to a rolling average of 2,500 units a year for the next 20 years, most of that growth occurs in the first 10 years. "I would prefer to stretch out the growth," Ms. Pendergrass said.

In other action last night, the council unanimously rejected a proposal by Councilman Charles C. Feaga, R-5th, that would have removed from the 1990 general plan a mixed-use designation for an 820-acre site in Fulton and replaced it with residential zoning and a small percentage of employment-center zoning.

Mr. Feaga asked the council to reject his proposal after residents opposed it, saying it did not go far enough.

Many wanted to do away with the mixed use designation all together and keep the current current zoning of one house per three acres.

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