The County Commissioners adopted procedures yesterday that will allow development to proceed in accordance with Carroll's recently adopted residential growth control law.
"Everybody now knows what the rules of the game are," county planning director Philip J. Rovang said after the procedures became official yesterday. "People can make significant decisions about their land, and about lending and borrowing money, with the certainty that the rules won't change halfway down the pipeline."
Yesterday's vote by County Commissioners W. Benjamin Brown and Donald I. Dell means that the county's new growth control law "is fully implemented as of today," Rovang said.
The commissioners' action ended a process begun eight years ago under public works director J. Michael Evans, "who deserves a lot of the credit," Rovang said.
The result is "a far better product" than a mere adequate facilities law, Rovang said. "What is so powerful about this ordinance is that it has accountability built into it for the county's elected officials, the planning commission and the county staff. They are all committed to identify adequate facilities based on clearly defined thresholds established in conjunction with citizen groups."
Further, the law requires the county to eliminate inadequacies in roads, schools and public services "as soon as possible," he said.
"It's clearly an ordinance of compromise," Rovang said. "No one gets all that they want."
The law, for example, "does not stop development cold in its tracks, but in fact allows a certain level to occur even where there are inadequacies," he said.
That was not the case during the past two years when residential development slowed almost to a halt.
Builders, developers and lenders complained that uncertainty was the rule rather than the exception. The county's residential subdivision process was so unpredictable, they said, that no one knew whether developers would be allowed to finish projects they had started.
Those who felt the planning commission treated them unfairly by stopping their plans appealed to the county Board of Zoning Appeals, which, more often than not, overturned planning commission decisions.
The planning commission sued when its decisions were overturned, and developers sued when they were not.
Thirteen cases were still in various stages in the courts when the commissioners enacted a growth control law March 5.
The planning commission dropped all but one of those cases when developers agreed to be governed by the terms of the county's new growth control law, which limits residential development to 6,000 lots a year and gives the commissioners power to direct housing developments to areas where schools, roads and public services are adequate and restrict it elsewhere.
The procedures approved yesterday guarantee that the developers who ended up in court will be the first to receive housing allocations under the new growth bill. Five have already applied for those allocations, and the others have been asked to reserve their allocations by April 30.
The guarantee does not apply to a Pikesville-based developer wanting to finish a 101-lot subdivision in Westminster, Rovang said, because the developer is seeking damages from the county.
The planning commission voted to drop the case if the developer agreed not to seek damages. Should that happen, the developer would receive the same guarantee as the developers in the other court cases, Rovang said.
As a result of yesterday's action, the planning commission can now devote its time "to deciding central planning issues," Rovang said.
Pub Date: 4/03/98