Planning commission revises preferential site plan criteria County to look at impact on economy during review

August 21, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Carroll County has new criteria for determining which businesses get preferential site plan review.

"The old fast-track criteria are no longer in effect," Philip J. Rovang, county planning director, told members of the Planning and Zoning Commission yesterday.

"The county will look [instead] at whether or not a business has an important impact on the county's economy" before agreeing to expedite its site plans, he said.

Before, businesses seeking to fast track their site plans through the review process had to agree to minimum criteria. Owners were required to provide a certain number of new jobs, offer a minimum annual salary to workers and have a capital investment of at least $500,000.

The problem, Rovang said, was that the criteria did not allow flexibility. Companies with one less employee or a dollar less salary or capital investment were not eligible.

Under new guidelines, already in practice, virtually every business looking to expand or move to the county can take advantage of the streamlined process, he said.

Commission member Joseph H. Mettle and Grant S. Dannelly, a planning board alternate, last month raised questions about the fast track after learning that site plans for an ice cream shop in Sykesville moved quickly through the review process.

Commissioners wanted to know the basis for the shop's placement on the fast track, along with 19 other projects, and why such plans were not coming to the commission for review.

In response to those concerns, Rovang asked the commission yesterday to develop new guidelines to determine which projects should come to the commission for review and which ones should be approved by the county planning director. The commission agreed to set aside a special hearing to consider that request.

Since 1977, the planning director has been able to approve commercial plans on behalf of the commission without its members ever reviewing them, he said.

If the site plans complied with the county's standards for nonfast-track plans, there was no need for the planning commission to review those decisions, he said.

However, Rovang, who came to the county from Iowa last fall to head the planning department, said he feels "uncomfortable signing off [on site plans for the commission] without a clear, up-to-date policy."

Pub Date: 8/21/96

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