Saying 'no' to overcrowding Carroll County: Zoning appeals body upholds adequate facilities rules in Carrolltowne.

April 14, 1997

THE CHAIRMAN OF the Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals, James Schumacher, put it most aptly and succinctly: "It's amazing to me the project even got to us."

The project, a 254-unit apartment complex in the most congested area of Eldersburg, was rejected by the board for badly failing to meet the county's adequate public facilities standards. Traffic-jammed roads, crowded schools and an overtaxed fire department were cited by the board, upholding an earlier denial by the county Planning and Zoning Commission.

The developer, Security Development Corp., relied on a quarter-century-old general approval of the complex by the county, noting that the number of authorized housing units had been reduced by a third in order to address crowding concerns. The apartments project is the final part of the 155-acre Carrolltowne development on Liberty Road.

At issue are the conflict of old development approvals that are blatantly inconsistent with today's conditions, and the validity of adequate facilities standards that address the demands of those conditions.

The Ellicott City developer made a good point that the planning commission should look at future school construction plans in reaching a decision. But even an optimistic projection of accelerated school building would not meet most people's definition of adequate, given the deplorable classroom crowding at every level. That's to say nothing of strained volunteer fire services and the worst intersection in South Carroll.

The BZA decision also contradicts a widely held view that its position on the adequate public facilities measures is at distinct odds with the Planning and Zoning Commission. There may be differences, but Mr. Schumacher's unequivocal judgment of the Carrolltowne apartments plan underlines a basic accord on this important, sensitive determinant of growth in Carroll County.

Security Development may appeal to the Circuit Court, which rejected the builder's earlier appeal. It may even accede to county wishes to revise and shrink its plans. But the zoning appeals panel has wisely declared that developers must meet contemporary standards to keep the community livable.

Pub Date: 4/14/97

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