Planning Commission delays decision on Belt Farm request

April 20, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

After several meetings and a site inspection, the Carroll County Planning Commission listed "decision" next to the Belt Farm development on yesterday's agenda.

The board had hoped to vote on the developer's rezoning request, which could double the number of houses on the site off Liberty Road in South Carroll.

Instead, the board asked for more drawings from Carroll Developers, the Howard County company that wants to develop the 203-acre site east of Linton Road, and made no decision.

Postponing the decision may have worked in the developer's favor.

Several commissioners nodded in agreement when their colleague David Duree commented: "I am uncomfortable with increasing population on that land."

The month delay will give the developer time to submit another proposal that would give more density and still protect water quality, said Jim Gracie, an environmental consultant to Carroll Developers.

"We could increase the zoning and preserve the conservation area in its entirety to the county," said Mr. Gracie.

John Maguire, the developer's lawyer, called the newest plan "a workable solution." Carroll Developers would cluster homes and dedicate conservation land to the county. Drawings detailing the plan will be available at the May meeting.

Mr. Maguire called the the present zoning, based on private well and septic systems, unprofitable. It would allow the developer to build about 140 homes.

The site is scheduled for public water and sewer within five years. The county would require the builder to hook into its lines at a cost of about $7,000 per home.

"Now that hooking into public water and sewer is required, we are talking about an additional $2 million in infrastructure," said Mr. Maguire. "The present zoning doesn't justify the expense."

The developer asked the commission several months ago to rezone the land to allow up to 240 homes, but nearby residents have balked at that.

"They keep talking about the economic issue and arguing they need rezoning to make a profit," said Barry C. Marsh, president of the Linton Springs Civic Association, a group of residents whose properties border Belt Farm. "They can build 116 homes now and still make a profit."

Mr. Marsh argued for the present conservation zoning, set in 1977, which allows one home for every three acres. He said several streams that feed Liberty Reservoir run through the property and could be adversely affected by increased construction.

Mr. Marsh reiterated the association's opposition to increased traffic on the only egress to Liberty Road and the added burden on already-crowded schools.

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