Builders say they'd erect schools Goal would be to offset impact of development

'They won't build for free'

Commissioner says high-density housing might be trade-off

April 02, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

On the same day the county made public the final version of its proposed Interim Development Control Ordinance, several local builders told Carroll County Commissioners yesterday that they would consider building schools to help offset the impact of development.

Greg Dorsey, president of the Carroll County Chapter of the Homebuilders Association, and several other builders said they would consider building the schools or enlarging and adding modular classrooms to existing ones. He did not give details.

The offer got a mixed reaction from commissioners yesterday.

"If they could help us build the schools we need, it would get us out of the dilemma," said Commissioner Richard T. Yates, who attended the unannounced, informal meeting at a Westminster restaurant.

Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said he is more skeptical of builders' motives than his colleague is.

"They won't build for free," he said. "They will want something in return, and that would probably be higher-density housing."

The offer -- similar to an arrangement in Baltimore County, one builder said -- comes at a time when crowded schools and roads have prompted the county to consider halting new subdivisions, the core of the proposed growth ordinance.

In February, the county hired Dr. Robert H. Freilich, a nationally known authority on growth based in St. Louis, to write the ordinance, which would ban major new subdivisions for 20 months.

The county Planning Commission hopes to use the 20 months to rework a 30-year-old master plan and address deficiencies in roads, schools and utilities.

The commissioners plan to hold a hearing on the proposed ordinance April 10 and vote on it shortly thereafter. They expect to enact it.

"We have to get adequate facilities concurrent with growth," said Mr. Brown.

Copies of the 12-page ordinance were in great demand yesterday at the County Office Building.

Before the scheduled noon release, about 20 people waited outside the Information Office, most of them builders seeking a first look at the proposed ban.

Patrick Dail, government affairs and chapter relations representative for the Homebuilders Association of Maryland, noticed immediately that building permits had been removed from the ban.

"Removing permits from the ban returns some stability to the process," Mr. Dail said.

The newest revisions put the industry and government "on speaking terms," Mr. Dorsey said.

Mr. Yates said the county has no intention of wounding its second-largest industry.

"We have to slow down and take a breather until we get our infrastructure up to date," he said. "We are not against builders. We are against uncontrolled growth."

Dr. Freilich met several times last month with county officials, builders, real estate agents and bankers to iron out kinks in his proposal before he delivered the final draft last week.

Projects in the county's eight towns would be exempt from the proposed controls, as would minor subdivisions -- those with three or fewer lots -- in the unincorporated areas.

"This is a better draft than the first, and it's likely to allow us to get down to work, instead of reacting," said Mr. Brown. "Our focus has to be how to stop major development from coming into the pipeline while we are spending this time to get a handle on growth."

The building industry has been vocal in its opposition to the ordinance.

"New development is paying for itself," said Mr. Dorsey. "But the resources are not being used effectively."

Without the $4,500 impact fee charged for every new home, the county would be hard pressed to build any schools or roads, Mr. Dorsey said.

Developers vow to attend next week's public hearing and might seek language clarifying some provisions of the ordinance.

"We won't let down the pressure," Mr. Dorsey said. "We have to make sure we get a good local master plan out of this ."

Yesterday, a steady stream of requests throughout the afternoon put a big dent in the pile of 400 copies of the ordinance.

Michael Oster, executive vice president of Carroll County Bank and Trust, got 12 for bankers.

"Bankers want to be sure they read it and have a position," said Mr. Oster. "We will be contacting the commissioners personally prior to the public hearing."

Pub Date: 4/02/96

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