Fast-track development plan dropped for slower approach BALTIMORE COUNTY

February 11, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

Baltimore County's plan for a new, fast-track development-approval process has been shunted onto an unscheduled siding.

County Administrative Officer Merreen E. Kelly told an approving County Council late Tuesday that the plan had been abandoned in favor of a less dramatic and slower approach.

The old plan, intended for a select few high-priority, job-producing commercial developments, would have cut the approval process from the current six to 18 months to perhaps one month. The new plan calls for a three-month approval process.

County officials had hoped the fast-track process would entice new business and manufacturing. The affordable housing component was added to the original concept in December.

Yesterday, County Executive Roger B. Hayden said affordable housing and commercial projects still will be eligible for the modified process.

Mr. Hayden is committed to encouraging affordable, detached single-family housing in the $100,000 to $150,000 range. He wants to staunch the flow of young working families who are rejecting Baltimore County in favor of Carroll, Howard and Harford counties and southern Pennsylvania.

According to Mr. Kelly and Zoning Administrator Arnold Jablon, the executive changed his mind because he didn't want to give the impression he was cutting the public out of the approval process. The fast-track process would have eliminated a public hearing, though an informational meeting would have remained. Just last year, the county's development-review process was reformed to give residents more say in what is built near them.

Mr. Kelly said the county's new approach will speed up bureaucratic consideration of some projects. This will be accomplished by simultaneously addressing two phases of the approval process. While the developer is going through the public-hearing and community-meeting phase, the project will be reviewed by county agencies that must issue permits. The key, Mr. Jablon believes, is having officials committed to moving priority projects along.

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