Subdivision Plans Can't Be Fiction

December 29, 1993

When developers obtain approval for subdivision plans and alter them without notifying the local planning commission, they are thwarting the entire development review process. A proposal by the Carroll County Planning Commission to levy heavy fines against developers for such violations certainly seems appropriate. Two recent cases point up the need for stiff sanctions.

Developer Wynne A. Stevens changed the driveways in a subdivision called Kenmar Manor at White Rock and Martz roads. Instead of having straight gravel driveways as detailed in his plans, Mr. Wynne widened and upgraded the driveways, significantly deviating from the approved plan and altering drainage conditions.

The other incident involved an easement on a lot at Tannery Manor. The planning commission approved a subdivision plat that showed the property as one lot. When the deed was recorded at the courthouse, however, the lot had been split into a number of parcels.

Most developers and builders adhere to plans that county regulators have approved. A few, however, seem to feel it is too onerous to resubmit for

approval plans that they have changed. If these developers think they can routinely flout subdivision regulations, they are wrong. Their actions undermine the county's approval process. Without penalties, these few will have little incentive to follow their plans. The result will be chaos.

If developers find it necessary to change their plans, any and all modifications need to be reviewed and approved. It is possible that the planning commission and the Bureau of Permits and Inspection could develop a "fast track" process for minor modifications of already approved plans. For major modifications, a more deliberative process may be needed.

Under a proposal the county commissioners are now considering, a developer could face a daily fine of $5,000 for each violation of subdivision regulations. Although the planning commission would be responsible for filing the complaint against the developer, the actual fines would be levied by a judge following a hearing.

Putting some teeth into subdivision regulations will ensure that developers and builders stick to their plans and that the county maintains the integrity of its approval process.

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