Developers, builders can meet quarterly with county officials

April 28, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

Developers in Carroll County will have two chances every three months to air their concerns to the government officials who write the rules.

Beginning next month, developers will meet quarterly with the Carroll County commissioners and again, separately, with staff members who deal with homebuilding issues.

Developers often clash with county staff members, who enforce regulations on reforestation, storm water management, roads or burying construction debris. The meetings are meant to be a forum to share information and try to prevent problems, say participants on both sides.

"It's not a question of being in cahoots with them," said Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said. "It's a commitment we have to help every business.

The building industry plays an important role in the county's economy, Mr. Lippy said.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said he wants developers, builders and engineers to be more involved with staff members as regulations are written and revised, so that county laws do not "unfairly impact some of the groups."

The commissioners met quarterly with home builders' representatives in past years, but the meetings stopped last year.

Representatives from the county's administration, general services, environment, planning, zoning and public works departments will attend the quarterly meetings.

Mr. Lippy said regular meetings will be one way to avoid problems, such as what he called "the Ralph Green incident" last year.

"That jerked us all awake," Mr. Lippy said.

The Carroll chapter of the Home Builders Association of Maryland gave Mr. Green, chief of the Bureau of Permits and Inspections, $500 to attend a National Building Officials and Code Administrators convention in St. Paul, Minn.

The county Ethics Commission later ruled that the gift was a conflict of interest, because Mr. Green voted on issues at the convention that could affect homebuilders. The county returned the money.

Patrick Dail, government affairs representative for the Home Builders Association of Maryland, said it's better to talk about potential problems "instead of waiting for them to boil over."

Association chapters in other counties have sponsored similar meetings, he said.

General Services Director J. Michael Evans, who oversees the county offices that issue building permits and review development plans, said "I like having open dialogue regularly with people. It avoids a lot of conjecture and problems. Rules have a way of inventing themselves if you don't have some sort of dialogue."

Developers will suggest agendas and run meetings attended by county staff members, Mr. Evans said.

Mr. Dell said the commissioners will run their meetings with the homebuilders, and staff members will be asked to attend.

Developers are scheduled to meet with county staff members at 11 a.m. May 10 at the County Office Building. They plan to meet with commissioners at 2:30 p.m. May 19 at the same place.

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