Planners vote to block 10-lot Eldersburg subdivision Slow-growth forces flex new muscle

September 08, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Carroll County's newly constituted Planning and Zoning Commission moved swiftly in showing its slow-growth muscle last week, quashing a 10-lot Eldersburg subdivision supported by residents and approved by the county attorney.

The 4-2 vote was the commission's first since County Commissioners W. Benjamin Brown and Richard T. Yates added two new members and an alternate to the panel Aug. 26 -- appointees they believe will support a slow-growth agenda.

The selections paid dividends immediately.

Newcomers Grant S. Dannelly of Woodbine and Melvin E. Baile Jr. of New Windsor joined Yates and Joseph H. Mettle of Sykesville in voting to keep the Carroll Venture Partnership from building on 10 lots on 5.3 acres in the Carroll Square subdivision near Eldersburg Elementary School.

They did so in the face of a recommendation from the county attorney that the panel approve an amendment allowing the developer to build homes on the 10 lots.

According to the law office, the county agreed in 1972 to allow the developer to build on the lots as soon as public water and sewer service became available. Now that they are available, the builder should be allowed to proceed, according to a memorandum from the law office.

But Dannelly, a vocal proponent of slow growth, disagreed. Times change, and the commission should not be bound by a 24-year-old decision, he said. The developer should not be allowed to proceed now because schools in the area are over capacity, he said.

Carol Brown, president of the Carroll Square Community Association, said that having children from 10 new homes enter the schools would be balanced by getting water and sewer service to the 185-home subdivision, where many septic systems are failing.

All the homes there have septic systems and could be connected to water and sewer lines the developer would install for the 10 new homes.

The entire neighborhood will be begging for public sewer service in 15 years or less, said Carol Brown, who has lived in Carroll Square for nine years and hopes one day to retire there. She recently replaced her septic system and will not be able to do it again, she said.

Developer Richard L. Hull told the planning commission that 39 of the Carroll Square homes have septic systems that are failing or have already failed. He would be installing the sewer line at no expense to the county, he said.

Dannelly and Yates were unimpressed. They worried that Carroll Square residents would be forced to hook up against their will. County law requires homeowners to connect to public water and sewer if it is available.

Hull said the requirement would not be a problem because the county health board could grant waivers in hardship cases.

After the vote rejecting the subdivision request, planning commission chairman Robin M. Frazier of Manchester suggested that the developer "get a building permit."

The county attorney found that the owners had satisfied the requirements for development "without our approval," she said.

Clark R. Shaffer, the developer's attorney, said his client is considering his options and "will do something," but has not decided what.

Carol Brown, who is a certified planner and a member of the land-use committee that will make recommendations for a new master plan, said she was "disappointed and surprised" by the decision.

Pub Date: 9/08/96

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