Foundation for growth management Concurrency law rightly pegs new housing to adequate public facilities.

March 09, 1998

THE CARROLL COUNTY Commissioners have laid the foundation for controlled growth in the county over the next six years, finally enacting the Concurrency Management Ordinance.

The long-debated measure, rejected in nearly identical form by the commissioners just last month, aims to link residential housing growth with available public utilities and services.

Some 6,000 building lots would be approved over the next six years, if the lots meet adequate public facilities standards.

The intent of the new law is quite reasonable: to set minimum requirements for schools, roads, sewer and water, and public safety services in order to adequately serve new houses and developments.

That is important for new homeowners moving into these units, as well as for current residents.

There is still a significant, unknown factor: some 6,700 already-recorded building lots in the county. The new law exempts them from the 6,000-lot limit, on the unproven prediction that only about a third of these recorded lots will actually be built upon. Estimates of how many are suitable for building vary.

The exemption for the recorded lots was brokered with development interests, in private, by Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown. That agreement stirred up a good deal of controversy, both about the secret meeting of Mr. Brown and about the pro-development result.

Both of these concerns faded, at least in the view of the three commissioners, as the need for an equitable, predictable growth-control system remained paramount. The fumbling political reverse of the commissioners was unnecessary, had they listened to the public and properly done their homework on this critical question over the past two years.

As Commissioner Donald I. Dell said, this ordinance is "as important a document as anybody ever produced in this county."

That sounds like election campaigning, but he's largely right. Except that the next group of county officials, to be elected in November, may decide to change the new law.

Concurrency -- pegging residential growth to adequacy of public services -- is an admirable goal. Despite the exemptions, the law is a reasonable effort to balance interests of the public and rationally manage future growth.

Pub Date: 3/09/98

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