Carroll grants two property owners exemptions to county growth freeze

October 08, 2003|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

The Carroll commissioners granted for the first time yesterday financial hardship exemptions to the county's yearlong growth freeze, one for a 14-home subdivision near Finksburg and one for a six-home subdivision in Woodbine.

Deborah Cooper, owner of the property near Finksburg, told the commissioners she would be unable to pay her grandmother's medical bills without the money she would earn from subdividing 26 acres of her family's farm. Fred Kent, owner of the Woodbine property, said he and his wife would face imminent financial ruin if not allowed to subdivide their 35-acre farm.

The commissioners voted unanimously to grant both exemptions, showing a rare willingness to relent on the freeze, scheduled to remain in place until June.

They had promised to consider making exceptions for landowners who have no other way to pay their bills. "This is exactly why we created" a hardship clause, said Commissioner Dean L. Minnich after hearing Kent's testimony.

Some developers who are battling the freeze in court or through administrative appeals have said the commissioners are acting arbitrarily by granting exemptions in a handful of cases.

The freeze closed the door to new subdivisions on land covered by adequate-facilities laws designed to prevent growth from overwhelming county services.

Two developers, JFJME Family LLC of Westminster and James Kohler of Eldersburg, have filed legal challenges against the freeze.

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