Pierno wants to rein the bulldozers HARFORD COUNTY

February 03, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

One day, you're admiring a wooded area near your house. The next, trees are being cut down, and bulldozers are grading the land for a new housing development you hadn't heard about.

That scenario was played out many times in Harford County during the boom development years -- from 1987 to 1990, when an average of 2,801 new houses were built annually.

Councilwoman Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C, thinks existing communities should have some say about new housing developments. So she's drafting legislation that would require developers to have public hearings as part of the county's approval process for new developments.

"Now, the first time [residents] hear about it is when the ground is graded and cleared, unless the developer has asked for a zoning variance or exception," said Mrs. Pierno.

"This would give the community an opportunity to comment. They might say, 'We don't want you to put sidewalks on both sides of the road,' or,'Maybe you could leave an area for a playground or park.' "

The legislation is based on an existing law in Baltimore County, Mrs. Pierno said.

Harford County developers don't welcome the idea.

"I haven't seen the proposed legislation, but it seems to me it would add another layer of hearings and more controversy and add an awful lot of time, and therefore money [to the cost of a project]," said George Shehan, president of American Landmark Homes Inc.

Mr. Shehan noted that the county already requires developers to submit projects for review by a Development Advisory Committee, whose meetings are open.

The county's director of planning and zoning also had qualms about the idea.

"I have serious concerns about her going in that direction without consulting us on it," said William G. Carroll, the department's director.

"We know we have to avoid the problem of people finding out at the 11th hour what's going on in their neighborhood and then trying to block it."

Mr. Carroll said that in an effort to resolve the issue the department created the Strategic Planning Committee, a group of 22 citizens and building industry experts.

Noting that Mrs. Pierno is a member of the committee, he said, "I think to run off on your own like that is an insult to all the citizens on that committee."

But Mrs. Pierno said she "didn't see this going anywhere, and I wasn't going to sit around and wait for them to come up with something."

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