Subdivision growth curb is opposed

January 18, 1995|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

Carroll residents whose incomes depend on housing construction jammed a county planning commission hearing yesterday to say that the problem isn't growth, but county government's failure to keep up with development.

The hearing was the first of two on a planning commission proposal to change the lot recording limit from 50 lots per 12 months to 50 lots per 24 months for each subdivision.

The second hearing, scheduled at night for working county residents, will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 at Westminster High School.

None of the 27 speakers yesterday favored the change. They noted the construction industry's contributions to the county's economy, predicted layoffs in housing construction, and reduced incomes for local businesses patronized by housing industry workers.

They also claimed that Carroll government has a 20-year history of failing to build schools and other services fast enough to keep pace with new subdivisions.

Manchester Town Councilman James Singer, who said he works in a housing-related industry, summed up the consensus: "We need to shoot this proposed amendment in the head and declare it dead."

Planning Commission Chairman Dennis P. Bowman said county statistics show that the existing 50-lot rule affects only a small percentage of the local building industry and the proposed change also would produce "a very small reduction in development in Carroll County."

If the effect will be so minimal, "How can it solve the problem of [inadequate] infrastructure?" asked James Billingslea Jr., a Westminster real estate sales representative.

Mr. Bowman replied that his intention was to stimulate discussion.

The proposed change from 50 lots per 12 months to 50 per 24 months received a quick, unanimous endorsement at the Dec. 20 planning commission meeting. Commission member Robert H. Lennon introduced the proposal, but said later it was not his idea and had grown from commission discussions.

Developers would be willing to build schools and lease them back to the county, suggested Joseph Comma, a Westminster real estate sales representative.

He said after the hearing that he knows developers who have offered to build schools, but county officials rejected the idea.

C. Nevin Haines, vice president of Tevis Oil Co., criticized the proposed lot recording limit change as "a quick fix calming down the public that wrongly believes all growth is bad."

Lawyer William B. Dulany, representing the developer of a 650-unit subdivision planned in Eldersburg, said the change would put the developer out of business.

"No large development can operate by building 25 units a year," he said.

Several bank executives also said the change would force developers to assume huge debt loads because of up-front costs for roads, sewer and water systems. The lot recording limits would stop developers from earning money fast enough to retire those debts, the bankers said.

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