The Anne Arundel County Council is considering a two-year moratorium on rezoning land that would slow growth in about three-quarters of the county, and builders are pledging to fight the proposal.
Following the recommendation of County Executive Janet S. Owens, County Council Chairman Daniel E. Klosterman Jr. submitted an emergency ordinance last week that the council is scheduled to discuss Thursday and vote March 1.
The legislation would freeze rezoning until the council, assisted by citizen advisory committees, completes a comprehensive rezoning of most of the county by the fall of 2000.
The bill introduced Feb. 1 would prevent the county's land-use office from accepting applications for rezonings dated between Dec. 31, 1998, and Dec. 31, 2000. It would not affect Brooklyn Park, Glen Burnie and the Pasadena peninsula.
Zoning on land in the northeastern section of the county is to be updated in 2001, and the council is expected to consider a moratorium for that area next year, said Richard Josephson, the county's administrator for long-range planning.
The County Council re-evaluates zoning designations countywide about once a decade. It puts moratoriums in place in the months before these efforts so landowners can't rush in and seek rezoning before the council decides what would be appropriate for those areas, county officials said.
"During the time that we are going to be considering a comprehensive rezoning of the county, we are going to suspend piecemeal rezonings," said Josephson. "It would be chaotic if a landowner were to apply for a rezoning while there is a general discussion going on about zoning in the whole area."
One of the goals of the county's comprehensive rezoning effort is to put into law a long-term land-use plan approved by the council in 1997 designed to protect environmentally sensitive areas and cluster homes and businesses within walking distance of one another, Josephson said.
Susan Davies, co-director of government affairs for the Homebuilders Association of Maryland, said the proposed moratorium would last too long and covers too much of the county.
Davies said the county should wait about a year before it considers a moratorium for south county, west county and the area around Baltimore-Washington International Airport because the committees discussing these rezonings haven't started meeting yet.
"In general, the homebuilding industry does not like moratoriums, because they don't solve problems, they only delay them," Davies said.
Andrew C. Carpenter, spokesman for the county executive, said the moratorium would not prevent any project on land that has proper zoning to move ahead.
"This is just a pause in the rezoning process to allow the small area plans [the citizen committees] to study their communities," Carpenter said.