Planning board OKs 32 homesites School crowding noted in earlier rejection

August 19, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission gave preliminary approval yesterday to two subdivisions it had previously rejected because of school crowding.

The votes to approve two more lots in the Re-Jo Estates subdivision in Reese and 30 lots in the Jenna Estates subdivision in South Carroll were unanimous.

And in the case of Jenna Estates, slightly reluctant.

The portion of the Jenna Estates subdivision that would be built first is in a conservation zone east of the Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville and north of Arrington Road next to Patapsco Valley State Park. As a rule, only one house per 3 acres is allowed in a conservation zone.

But the law allows homes in conservation zones to be clustered -- one house per 2 acres -- to preserve a large tract of open space. And that is exactly what the developer proposes.

The open space, which may be owned in common by the residents or deeded to the county, has been accepted by the county as a source of future ground water for the Freedom area water system.

Ironically, the water would not serve the 90-acre parcel approved for a subdivision yesterday. The 30 homes on that site would be served by well and septic systems, even though they are adjacent to a water and sewer service area.

That did not sit well with commission Chairman Thomas G. Hiltz of Woodbine, who was told he was correct in his assumption that well and septic systems harm parkland more than public water and sewer service.

"What planning principle are we following when we have water and sewer [service] nearby and we're allowing well and septic" instead, he asked.

K. Marlene Conaway, Carroll's deputy planning director, said that the property is outside the county's planned water and sewer service area and that 2-acre lots would be big enough to handle individual septic systems

"I'm very concerned" that when a large development is proposed next to a water and sewer service area it cannot connect to that service, Hiltz said.

As chairman of the commission, Hiltz doesn't vote except in the case of a tie. He did not vote on the project.

Planning commission member Grant S. Dannelly of Marriottsville joined the others in voting for the project but expressed concerns on two fronts. He objected to what he saw as a dilution of a conservation zone and feared that a new area high school to relieve crowding might not be built on schedule.

"What are we conserving?" Dannelly asked rhetorically.

Meanwhile, the county, under its new growth-control law, has given the developer a guarantee that he will be able to build the entire 130-lot subdivision in stages by 2003 -- a fact that did not sit well with Dannelly or commission Vice Chairwoman Deborah L. Ridgely of Finksburg.

"You have them locked in with building permits" for the next five years, Dannelly asked incredulously.

"Absolutely," said county Planning Director Philip J. Rovang. "It puts our feet to the fire."

The County Commissioners decided the developer could go ahead with the project based on the criteria in the new growth law, Rovang told the planning panel. "Our response is to see that the inadequacies [such as school crowding] are cured" as the project moves forward, he said.

The commission rejected the preliminary plan of Jenna Estates on Feb. 20, 1996, citing inadequacy of schools. It did so again Sept. 17, 1996, for the same reason.

Inadequate school facilities in the Reese-Finksburg area was the reason given for the commission's March 17, 1998, rejection of the Re-Jo Estates preliminary plan. The plan was approved yesterday without discussion.

Earlier rejections of the two projects occurred before the county enacted its growth-control measure. The law allows a limited amount of development to go forward in areas previously closed to growth, provided the developer agrees to certain conditions.

Altogether, 22 conditions were attached to the Jenna Estates approval yesterday and nine attached to the Re-Jo request.

Among the conditions imposed on Jenna Estates was that the developer make improvements to Arrington Road, and that access to Arrington Road from any residential lot within the subdivision would be prohibited. Residents would get to their homes by way of two dead-ended public roads and four use-in-common driveways.

In other action yesterday, the planning commission voted to give the public 60 days to review a plan aimed at preserving up to 1,500 historic sites in the county.

Pub Date: 8/19/98

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