Moratorium on new homes in Fallston to end in July

Recalculated capacity of school leads to change

April 16, 1999|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

A moratorium on residential building in Fallston will be lifted this summer after a developer's $24 million lawsuit led officials to reassess school crowding, the Harford County executive said yesterday.

The suit, filed last month by Fallston Valley Farms LLC, was dropped April 9 after the county brought in a representative from the Maryland Office of Planning who raised pupil capacity at Fallston Middle School by 158.

"The moratorium will be lifted as of July 1," County Executive James M. Harkins said. "I regret that I have to take the moratorium off, but when I was sworn in I swore to uphold the laws."

The lifting of the moratorium means Fallston Valley Farms can continue with its plans to build a housing development off Angleside Road.

Tony McClune, chief of the county's Current Planning Division, said the company's plans are in their initial stages.

Development has been a continuing issue in Harford. Many residents have complained about what they view as rapid, unchecked growth and corresponding problems, such as congested traffic.

Under county regulations, a moratorium on residential development can be imposed in an area where a school is at 120 percent or more of capacity.

According to the county's 1997 Annual Growth Report, Fallston Middle School's capacity was 900 pupils, meaning its enrollment of 1,121 pupils was 125 percent of capacity.

Harkins said that after a recent visit to the building, the state placed the school's capacity at 1,058, which means there is no basis for the moratorium, which has been in effect since 1994.

Harkins said the school's capacity had not been reviewed since 1993 and that usable space inside the building had increased since then.

Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas has pledged to review school capacities more frequently to avoid such situations, Harkins said.

Pub Date: 4/16/99

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