Growth measure due for rewrite Proposal to control sprawl has run into criticism

March 21, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The County Commissioners and the author of a proposed interim development-control ordinance, a nationally known growth expert, worked yesterday on ironing out kinks in the measure.

They could do little to combat what Robert H. Freilich called the expected "whiplash" he has received from developers, builders and real estate agents who fear the ordinance would stymie business.

"Homebuilders and Realtors are an important economic aspect to this community," said Dr. Freilich, a law professor at the University of Missouri and chairman of the American Planners Association.

"The controversy is not bad, but our real problem is to move to a real solution. We must put in the ordinance a good-faith effort to manage deficiencies."

Those deficiencies are particularly evident in roads and schools that have failed to keep up with a population that has grown by 20,000 since 1990.

Dr. Freilich has proposed a 20-month ban on new subdivisions to allow the Planning Commission time to rework Carroll's 30-year-old master plan and to deal with severe gaps in the county infrastructure.

"There has to be more emphasis on the county's commitment to deal with the issues," Dr. Freilich said. "The next 18 months will be all about finding out if we can do that. Growth has outpaced the ability of infrastructure to deal with it."

The commissioners hired Dr. Freilich last month to help develop controls on growth.

"Our ultimate goal is to keep sprawl down," Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said.

Building projects already being reviewed will be subject to adequate-facilities certification as they reach the next step in the process. Since the possibility of an ordinance became public two months ago, building permits have soared to 400 for the year, more than double the number for the same three months in 1995.

"We want to make clear that reviews for adequate facilities will occur once," Dr. Freilich said. "This will help resolve problems while you are considering growth issues."

Dr. Freilich has pointed repeatedly to the county's lack of industry, and the ordinance would exempt economic development projects.

"I want no roadblocks to economic development," Mr. Brown said.

The ordinance also exempts any owner of one lot who purchased property before March 15.

Many who read a preliminary draft of the ordinance last week said it usurped the Planning Commission's authority.

"None of the Planning Commission powers are abated," Dr. Freilich said. "They will still review everything they currently do and make recommendations to the commissioners. You cannot override what they deny."

The ordinance would not permit the commissioners to override a Planning Commission denial of a project but would let them rescind an approval.

"The earlier the County Commissioners are involved in the process, the better the process will be," Dr. Freilich said. "A master plan is only a set of guidelines. Until it is implemented in the capital improvements budget, in regulations, zoning and fee structures, it has no meaning."

Dr. Freilich said he would try his hand "at writing to reflect the community" and would rewrite the draft to correct any misunderstandings. The commissioners will receive the revised draft March 29.

To give the public time to review the ordinance and any changes, the commissioners have postponed until April 9 a hearing that had been scheduled for Wednesday. The Planning Commission is to make its recommendations April 10.

Pub Date: 3/21/96

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