Council limits building Adequate sewer, water facilities in areas at issue HARFORD COUNTY

June 09, 1993|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Staff Writer

In Harford County, where developers built more than 18,000 new homes over the past seven years, the County Council last night barred new construction in areas with inadequate water and sewerage facilities.

The measure, proposed by County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, will force commercial and residential developers to receive approval for new water and sewer facilities at the time a preliminary development plan is submitted to the Department of Planning and Zoning.

Developers can now build homes before the county ensures adequate water and sewer capacity exists and seek water and sewer hookups late in the construction process.

That policy led to a construction crisis in Bel Air recently when a moratorium on water and sewer hookups was abruptly imposed, cutting off the sale of nearly completed houses until the Plumtree pumping station could be expanded. The three-year moratorium was lifted in March.

"This law should prevent that from happening again. Because we'll have a better gauge of what projects are coming on line and when, we can determine how much money we need for capital improvement projects," said Theresa M. Pierno, a District C Democrat and chief supporter of the legislation among council members.

County Planning Director William Carroll said the measure also would reduce the number of builders who hold land that has been approved for development without moving forward with construction.

Developers can win initial approval to build on a site and receive as many as five one-year extensions to formalize their plans.

Under the new measure, the county will grant preliminary site approval and allocate capacity for water and sewerage for a two-year period.

If the developer fails to follow up on plans, he could apply for one two-year extension of approval but also would have to reapply for water and sewer capacity.

The water and sewer measure is the second of a three-part package designed to regulate growth by ensuring that schools, roads and other public facilities can handle development before it is approved.

A law allowing the county to reject development where school enrollment would be more than 20 percent over capacity within three years took effect in July 1992. Legislation guaranteeing the adequacy of roads will be introduced this fall, Mr. Carroll said.

The latest bill raised concern among developers who fear it will hurt small, local builders' chances of getting financing for their projects.

Some two dozen amendments have been proposed over the past month.

Mrs. Pierno said the bill is similar to adequate facilities legislation in other counties, including Howard, Montgomery and Baltimore. "We are nowhere near the strictest, but it isn't a weak bill either," she said.

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