Carroll planners urge homebuilding ban

Suggestion prompted by water shortage

June 07, 2000|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Noting critical water shortages, planners are urging a ban on home construction in South Carroll that would all but end a building boom that has tripled Eldersburg's population in the past 25 years.

The recommendation occurs a week after Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier floated the same possibility, noting predictions for a dry summer and a beleaguered public water system. County efforts to obtain permits to build more wells and to tap more water from Liberty Reservoir, the primary source for most of the 30,000 residents of South Carroll, have failed.

The county should not accept plans for new subdivisions "until the commissioners decide a long-term strategy or get short-term relief" from water problems that have beset South Carroll for nearly five years, said Steven Horn, Carroll's director of planning. The problems have led to restrictions on outdoor water use the past three summers.

"We are approaching an inadequate water situation, and there is no long-term relief in the budget," said Horn.

Since the 1970s, Carroll has directed much of its development to its southern end, but the county has not found new water sources in what is one of the fastest growing areas in the Baltimore region. At least 600 more homes are approved for construction and would not be affected by the ban.

"The people in South Carroll need reassurances that we will not overcrowd them with houses" and further burden the water system, said Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge. "This situation is not fair to the people living there. They should have [adequate] water."

Frazier said if the county doesn't devise a viable plan, "we should be hung in the county square." However, she backed away from a ban, saying it would be better to develop land in increments over a longer period than planned.

Horn's proposal would curtail new subdivisions until officials can solve the water crisis that affects nearly 20 percent of the county population.

"This is not a building permit cap. Lots approved can proceed," said Horn. "This is just a temporary restriction on homes coming into the pipeline."

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