Commission focuses on controlling growth

January 29, 1995|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

Carroll County Commissioners are working to fulfill a campaign promise: They have begun crafting a proposed law to help ensure that public facilities are adequate for the growing population.

Residents have said in public forums and at the polls that they want county officials to do a better job of managing growth. They said they are tired of crowded schools, jammed roads and overworked police officers.

The county adequate facilities policy, which provides only guidelines, needs "teeth," Commissioner Donald I. Dell said Friday.

The commissioners asked three staff members to study similar regulations used around the country and to report back to them by April 1.

"We're doing research into existing regulations," said J. Michael Evans, director of the Department of General Services and a committee member.

The committee might recommend that Carroll control growth by limiting the number of building permits issued, he said. State law already requires the county to deny building permits if adequate water and sewer facilities are not available, he said.

For instance, the county imposed a moratorium on sewer connections in the Freedom area for almost 3 1/2 years, from February 1989 to July 1992.

Mr. Evans said the commissioners need authority to limit growth in areas where roads, schools and other services are inadequate.

County Attorney Charles W. Thompson Jr. wrote in a December memo to the commissioners that the county could limit the number of permits issued if there was evidence that limits would benefit public health or safety.

Mr. Thompson is chairman of the committee studying adequate facilities. The third member is Planning Director Edmund R. Cueman.

Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said an ordinance needs to be adopted quickly because the commissioners want it to be in effect before the county budget is made final in May. Such a change would have direct impact on the county's capital budget, which includes roads, school construction and other projects, he said.

Mr. Dell, who is serving his second term, said he thought the commissioners had dealt with the adequate-facilities issue during the previous term, when they appointed a citizens committee in 1991 that studied the issue for almost two years.

After reviewing the report, the commissioners asked the Planning Commission to use the recommended standards when deciding whether to approve subdivisions. State law, however, says the Planning Commission does not have to follow any standards recommended by the commissioners.

The Planning Commission already is considering a plan to control growth by limiting builders to recording 50 lots every 24 months.

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