Balto. County Council passes yard storage, housing limits

December 20, 2005|By JOSH MITCHELL | JOSH MITCHELL,SUN REPORTER

Baltimore County residents can keep portable storage containers on their property for 60 days and on residential roads for five days under legislation passed by the County Council last night.

The council also agreed to strengthen a law prohibiting new homes near crowded schools. Both measures passed by 6-0 votes, with Councilman Kevin Kamenetz absent.

County public works officials say the containers, nicknamed "pods" and used during moves and renovations, have become increasingly common on driveways and public roads. Some residents complain that they are road hazards and eyesores.

"They were becoming a nuisance," said Councilman Stephen G. Samuel Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat who introduced the bill. The county has had to delay curb work on several occasions because contractors could not work around the containers, Moxley said.

His bill initially set limits of 30 days on private property and three days on residential roads, but he amended it to extend the limits at the request of the owners of the Baltimore franchise of Portable On Demand Storage.

Violators face a $100 fine.

To strengthen the county's adequate facilities law, the council approved a bill that will prevent the construction of homes if they, along with other planned developments, would cause a school to exceed its capacity by 15 percent.

New homes currently are prohibited if their development would cause a school to exceed 115 percent capacity.

Council members said the bill is designed to prevent a situation where the county approved two residential projects that individually wouldn't cause a school to become crowded but would when taken together.

"This was an important starting point," said Chairman Joseph Bartenfelder, a Fullerton Democrat, who said he favors removing an exemption to the law that allows development near crowded schools.

The exemption allows homes to be built near a school that is over capacity if a nearby school is under capacity. The idea behind the exemption is that the school board could even out enrollment through redistricting. But historically the school board has been loath to change boundary lines.

"Quite frankly I think you need to close that loophole," Councilman Kenneth N. Oliver, a Randallstown Democrat, said before last night's meeting.

Council members Moxley and T. Bryan McIntire, a north county Republican, said last week the issue needed to be looked at further.

According to the most recent enrollment figures, nine of the county's more than 160 schools exceeded capacity by 15 percent.

josh.mitchell@baltsun.com

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