Resident-developer meetings measure OK'd

February 07, 2007|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,sun reporter

The Howard County Council approved one bill this week and received two more aimed at making it easier for residents to learn what developers have in store for their neighborhoods.

The bill approved unanimously at Monday night's session would require developers to hold information meetings about their plans in public or institutional buildings within five miles of the construction site, unless a waiver is issued by county officials, before formally submitting plans to the county.

The council also approved the appointment of Kevin Doyle and James D. Walsh to the county Board of Appeals.

One of the two new bills introduced Monday night would require similar sessions for developments of five or fewer homes in the rural western county, which are now exempt from such meetings.

Sponsor Greg Fox, a western county Republican, said that, with the five-mile rule for pre-submission meetings about to take effect, sessions should be held for all developments, not just large ones.

The second new measure would require builders to give residents at least three weeks' notice of an information meeting, and would allow residents to request that county planners attend the meetings to explain the development process. Current law requires the developers to hold the meetings to inform people of their plans, but they do not involve county officials.

Councilwoman Courtney Watson, an Ellicott City Democrat, said the bill is an attempt "to encourage the executive branch" to have planners attend the meetings when residents want them to.

Both bills are co-sponsored by at least four council members, and are designed, members said, to enhance residents' ability to find out what building is planned near them before the formal development process gets under way.

In other business, a resolution was introduced to appoint Dr. Janet Siddiqui to the school board to fill the unexpired term of Mary Kay Sigaty, who was elected to the County Council in November.

larry.carson@baltsun.com

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