The Montgomery County Council, hoping to avoid an executive veto, yesterday linked a controversial plan to curb the county's building boom to another proposal that would raise $30 million a year for roads and schools through fees and a tax on new development.
The revenue measures and development curbs were combined in an "omnibus growth management bill" hashed out by the council yesterday in an all-day work session. The bill is expected to be introduced today at the council's regular meeting.
"A package of solutions has the chance of winning five votes and the executive's signature," said council member David L. Scull.
The council wants the revenue to finance an accelerated building program for roads and schools to meet the needs of the county's growing population.
The measure, which culminates almost eight months of often-heated debate over the need to limit development to cope with massive traffic congestion in fast-growing areas of the county, calls for:
*An excise tax of $3.25 a square foot on all new residential and commercial development, along with impact fees on development in fast-growing areas. Together they would raise $30 million a year for new road and school construction.
*A three-year curb on development in fast-growing areas such as Germantown, Gaithersburg, North Bethesda and the Rte. 29 corridor, limiting growth to 70 percent of the 1985 level in the first year after enactment and 40 percent of that level for the next two years. About 10,000 houses were built last year.
*A requirement that the council prepare an annual policy statement detailing long-term levels of growth based on the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. That task now belongs to the County Planning Board.
"I think it addresses the problems," said council member Neal Potter. "I think we've put together some things that make some sense."
Development curbs were first introduced last summer by Scull and Potter, but the idea was roundly opposed by most of the county's business community and by County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist, who strongly hinted that he would veto such a measure.
The council referred the matter last October to a study committee, which stopped short of endorsing the curbs but called for a wide range of public transportation initiatives and new taxes.
Last month, council member R. Scott Fosler proposed a separate bill that included development curbs "as a last resort" in addition to several other steps that placed the responsibility for managing growth squarely with the council.
Fosler said yesterday that he was glad the council adopted his idea for an annual growth policy statement, but said the development curbs and tax proposal should be split into separate bills.
"It's too complicated otherwise," he said.
The council, largely at the prodding of President William E. Hanna Jr., agreed to come up with one bill encompassing the various proposals. After the measure is formally introduced, the council must hold a public hearing before taking further action.