Plan to ban subdivisions is opposed Developers decry proposal to control growth for 20 months

'A vicious document'

Attorney says option gives too much power to commissioners

March 15, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

County developers say a proposed growth control-ordinance developed by a Missouri planning consultant would give the County Commissioners too much power and lead Carroll into a deeper budget crisis.

In a meeting with county planners yesterday, Richard L. Hull, president of Carroll Land Services, called the ordinance "a vicious document" that is unfair to the industry that has fueled the local economy.

"The county has tied its wagon to our engine and now you want to stop the whole train," Mr. Hull said. "You can fine-tune the process, but don't put up a brick wall."

The ordinance, developed by Robert H. Freilich, a law professor at the University of Missouri and chairman of the American Planning Association, calls for a 20-month ban on approvals of new subdivisions in unincorporated areas of the county.

But the proposal also may give the commissioners authority to which they are not legally entitled, said Michelle Ostrander, a Westminster attorney.

"The document gives the commissioners approval over subdivisions," she said. "I am not sure they have that authority from the state."

Greg Dorsey, president of the Carroll County Chapter of the Home Builders Association, said the ordinance is not fiscally sound. The building industry represents 2,860 jobs 8 percent of the county's employment. In 1994, it paid nearly $5 million in county taxes and more than $12 million in development fees, he said.

"The ordinance shuts the building industry down because of the fears and uncertainty," Mr. Dorsey said. "If it cuts us down even 50 percent, the county would lose $9 million in revenue."

Uncertainty will curtail lending, said Jonathon Mayers, a county builder.

"Whether we say 'moratorium' or not, that is the cold reality," Mr. Mayers said.

Carroll's population has grown by 20,000 since 1990 and its roads and schools have not kept pace. While he said he recognizes the need to manage growth, Mr. Dorsey urged county planners to maintain development at current levels.

"The shortfall in adequate facilities is not the fault of the development community; it's the fault of government," Mr. Hull said.

The county hired Dr. Freilich, a nationally recognized growth expert, last month. The plan is designed to curtail new subdivision development temporarily and allow planners time to rework Carroll's 30-year-old master plan. The interim ordinance also would give county officials time to deal with congested roads and crowded schools.

"There is nothing wrong with development or any need to stop it long term," said Wayne B. Schuster, a South Carroll resident. "The ordinance says take a breather and qualify what is going on."

About 75 percent of all development takes place in the towns and their surrounding planning areas, said Philip J. Rovang, county planning director. The ordinance allows development to continue there.

"Development will not come to a screeching halt," Mr. Rovang said. "The goal of the master plan is to develop community planning areas."

County planners also met with municipal officials yesterday. They, too, have problems with the ordinance, which will concentrate direct growth in and around the towns.

"All the growth will be controlled except for that around the towns," said New Windsor Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. "You will be funneling growth to areas around the the towns where we have no authority. We don't want growth unless it comes into towns, where our programs are working."

Melvin Baile Jr., a New Windsor farmer, said the ordinance should apply to the entire county. He fears the policy would attract . A public hearing will be held March 27.

Pub Date: 3/15/96

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