Stop Haines' bill The product of senator's proposal will be sprawl, lost farmland.

March 22, 1996

LEGISLATIVE PROTOCOL being what it is in the state capital, Senate Bill 649 a local measure unanimously endorsed by the Carroll County delegation will likely sail through the General Assembly. This is too bad because under any other circumstance, this piece of legislation should not have been reported out of committee.

Promoted as a measure to help farmers by allowing them to develop residential lots by cutting red tape, the bill would destroy any semblance of planning in Carroll. As proposed, it would exempt subdivisions of up to six lots on agricultural land from the county's adequate facilities test. In other words, development of these lots would proceed in spite of crowded schools, congested roads and inadequate water and sewer accommodations. At the same time that Carroll County is on the verge of adopting a stringent growth management strategy to slow unbridled residential building, this bill would create a new class of unregulated development. The number of lots created under this measure could be as many as 9,000.

Sen. Larry Haines has been the prime proponent of this misguided bill. He claims it benefits farmers who have lost equity in their land as a result of zoning. While farmers get some benefit from this legislation, the major beneficiaries will be developers who won't have to bother with county planning approvals.

fTC Mr. Haines wants to turn back the clock and return to the days when developers were allowed to do as they pleased. In 1994, voters put into office two commissioners who promised to enforce strong controls on development. This bill will sabotage that intent. It will increase sprawl and destroy the farmland Mr. Haines claims to be saving.

Although it is legislative custom not to oppose local bills, state lawmakers interested in curbing development practices that have fouled the Chesapeake watershed, crowded schools and congested the highways should vote against this bill. Lawmakers in neighboring Baltimore County who would waive through this bill on the grounds of local courtesy should look at their pristine valleys on Carroll's border and think twice. And ultimately, if this measure lands on his desk, Gov. Parris N. Glendening should veto it. He would be doing Carroll County residents a big favor.

Pub Date: 3/22/96

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