Growth freeze in Carroll gets first challenge in courtroom

Finksburg project met adequate-facilities test

October 02, 2003|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

The Carroll commissioners' yearlong growth freeze met its first courtroom challenge yesterday when an Eldersburg developer asked a county judge to let work proceed on his proposed 21-lot subdivision in Finksburg.

Developer James Kohler is requesting an injunction against the 4-month-old freeze, which he says is unfair because the county gave him a certificate saying that if he met certain conditions, he would be allowed to develop his project in 2005.

Circuit Judge Michael M. Galloway said he might take a few weeks to rule on the injunction request, adding that his decision could set a precedent for the 90 other projects affected by the freeze.

"I don't want to shoot from the hip on this one," he said. "Clearly, it's an important issue that affects not only this plaintiff but other plaintiffs and ... most of the people in this county."

Galloway said he was impressed with arguments on both sides. "I felt myself at various stages leaning one way and then leaning another," he said.

The freeze closed the door to new subdivisions on land covered by adequate-facilities laws designed to prevent growth from overwhelming county services. It also has delayed development on about 1,700 lots that passed earlier stages in the county's subdivision review process.

Kohler received a certificate from the county last year saying that his project, called Clover Meadow, would not strain county infrastructure such as schools, roads, firehouses and water supplies.

Kohler told the court yesterday that he regarded that certificate as a contract guaranteeing him the right to begin building on the 58-acre parcel, at Deer Park Road and Route 91, in 2005.

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