Brown says he's sure Carroll Co. needs plan to control growth Ordinance would ban any new subdivisions for the next 18 months

April 12, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

A day after facing nearly 500 vocal opponents of the county's proposed Interim Development Control Ordinance (IDCO), Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown left the door open yesterday for revisions, but said he remains convinced that Carroll needs temporary growth controls.

The County Commissioners and the Planning Commission heard more than three hours of testimony Wednesday night, much of it orchestrated by the real estate, building and banking industries, but Mr. Brown said he continues to support the proposal.

"I will not be swayed," he said yesterday. "I am convinced we need IDCO."

The county paid Robert H. Freilich, a nationally recognized planner, $35,000 to write the ordinance. In the past few months, Dr. Freilich has met with several groups in the county and revised the proposal several times.

IDCO would ban new subdivisions for the next 18 months, while the county reworks its 30-year-old master plan.

"It is imperative to stop new subdivisions from coming into the system under old rules while we are revising those rules," Mr. Brown said.

The county needs the interim "to spend its energy and full concentration on the master plan," said Philip Rovang, county director of planning.

"I will certainly be working with the commissioners to make sure revisions to the ordinance have no negative impact on the county," Mr. Rovang said.

Many in the development industry said even a temporary shutdown would send the county into an economic tailspin.

A newly formed and well-funded Citizens for Managed Growth urged attendance at the hearing held at North Carroll High School in Hampstead.

Speakers predicted high unemployment, increased property taxes and dire repercussions for area businesses, if the county enacts growth controls.

IDCO is "an attorney's dream in terms of the legal issues," said David Bowersox, a Westminster attorney.

"It clearly discriminates against new residential development," said John J. Delaney, an attorney for the Homebuilders Association.

Commissioner Richard T. Yates said yesterday he was satisfied with the ordinance as written. But, he has "mostly legal questions that I plan to run by our attorney."

While the development industry is asking the county to kill the ordinance, growth activists want to strengthen it. At the commissioners' weekly news conference yesterday, Dan Hughes, founder of Solutions for a Better South Carroll, delivered about 300 signatures from those who want building permits included in the ban.

"How do you play catch up on facilities, until you slow down?" Mr. Hughes asked. "We have had years of bad decisions and bad policies and this board is being asked to pay the piper."

Mr. Brown said he expected the arguments at the hearing.

"Those concerns will have an impact and an effect on our thinking," he said. "In the final draft, you will see those concerns reflected."

If enacted, IDCO would be retroactive to March 15. As drafted now, the ordinance would allow the commissioners to sift through applications to determine which can continue through the development review process. In areas such as South Carroll, where schools and roads are inadequate, officials probably will deny projects.

Mr. Brown does not envision a complete shutdown in the industry.

"The goal is to make IDCO effective, yet recognize the interests the development community has in place already," Mr. Brown said.

The commissioners hope to decide whether to enact IDCO within a few weeks. "Everyone is welcome to the table" during deliberations, Mr. Brown said.

Pub Date: 4/12/96

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