Wrestling with measures to control growth while protecting property rights, the Baltimore County Council voted last night to extend a nine-year building moratorium in areas where elementary schools are crowded and extended a prohibition against new building permits in sensitive coastal areas.
The measure prohibiting construction in districts where elementary schools are more than 20 percent over capacity was to have expired June 30, but will remain in effect until Jan. 1.
Some parents say the law has too many exemptions.
During the school year that just ended, seven schools were more than 20 percent over capacity, but the moratorium took effect at only one, Powhatan Elementary School off Liberty Road. Others were exempt because space is available in nearby schools, or because new schools or additions were planned.
Council Chairman Kevin B. Kamenetz, a Randallstown-Pikesville Democrat, suggested leaving the moratorium in place until Dec. 1, 2000, as the bill originally specified.
But Joseph Bartenfelder, a Fullerton Democrat, urged the council to approve an amendment setting an earlier expiration date to prompt the legislative body to take action this year to permanently resolve the school crowding problem. Six of the council's seven members agreed with the amendment and the bill passed unanimously.
The prohibition against construction in the Bowleys Quarters and Back River Neck Peninsula communities will be extended until Aug. 6 to give the council time to review growth management recommendations from the county's planning board.
The council passed the four-month moratorium in March in response to a flurry of building proposals that occurred as sewer service was extended to the area.
The sewer is needed because many homes in the areas have failing septic systems that are leaking into waters that flow into the Chesapeake Bay.
While existing homes will be allowed to hook up to public sewerage as it becomes available, the number of new homes is to be limited to those on about 300 lots already approved for development.
In other business, the council unanimously approved the reappointments of the county administrator, county attorney, police chief, fire chief, zoning commissioner and deputy zoning commissioner to new four-year terms.
Kamenetz had pulled the appointments off the agenda of a previous meeting, saying he wanted additional time to conduct interviews.
Zoning Commissioner Lawrence Schmidt and Deputy Commissioner Timothy Kotroco, who have held their jobs since 1991, were reappointed despite concerns that they maintain private law practices. Schmidt earns $86,300 a year and Kotroco $79,500 a year.
The council also confirmed County Administrator John M. Wasilisin, County Attorney Virginia W. Barnhart, Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan and Fire Chief John F. O'Neill. Barnhart, Sheridan and O'Neill each earn $106,000 and Wasilisin earns $89,300.