Two County Council candidates propose standards for growth Kittleman and Merdon want tighter restrictions on schools, traffic, studies

October 15, 1998|By Gady A. Epstein | Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF

Two Republican candidates from the County Council's two most conservative districts offered a glimpse yesterday of how residential growth may be slowed if they are elected next month.

Ellicott City candidate Christopher J. Merdon and western Howard candidate Allan H. Kittleman have been two of the most vocal candidates on the issue of managing residential growth. Yesterday, they issued several pledges at a news conference with GOP county executive candidate Dennis R. Schrader:

Change the county's requirements on school crowding. The county now can delay residential projects if the area elementary school's enrollment exceeds 120 percent of its intended capacity. Merdon and Kittleman propose lowering that figure, to perhaps as low as 105 percent. They also want middle school and high school crowding to be considered before projects are approved.

Tighten the standards used to measure whether roads can keep up with development. Though the candidates don't have specific proposals, they would like to require roads near proposed developments to have better projected traffic flows than are now required. The county doesn't delay projects as long as roads are classified by government as better than "failing."

Stop allowing developers to choose consultants for traffic studies. Merdon and Kittleman want the county to choose the consultant, though the developer would still pay the cost of the study.

"It would make more sense to have those traffic studies done by an independent person," Kittleman said.

Schrader praises ideas

Schrader said Merdon and Kittleman had "good ideas," but he stopped short of endorsing them. He said he wants any changes to county growth law, including his proposal to require economic impact statements for residential projects, to be decided by a consensus of developers, residents and others.

The two council candidates' Democratic opponents, Debra Ann Slack Katz of western Howard and George Layman of Ellicott City, say they support reducing the elementary school crowding figure, and they say they would look at including middle school and high school crowding as well. Slack Katz would consider tightening traffic standards, while Layman did not commit to that.

Rivals back cooperation

Both Democrats said they would like more cooperation with developers. Slack Katz says the county and communities should build a more "amiable" relationship with developers, while Layman says developers should be required to meet with communities before formally proposing projects.

Democrat criticizes pledge

Layman, who is Merdon's opponent, criticized the Republicans' proposal that the county pick the consultants who perform developers' traffic studies.

"It's very unreasonable that my opponent, who's a Republican, says the government needs to stay out of people's lives and their businesses, but now the government is going to tell developers who they're gonna use," Layman said.

Merdon and Kittleman are running in conservative districts that have consistently elected Republicans during this decade. Even if they are elected, their ideas on overseeing growth may be watered down. They agree with Schrader that any changes in law should come, if possible, by consensus of varied interests -- the same process that earlier in this decade led to the policies the candidates want to change again.

Pub Date: 10/15/98

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