The Montgomery County Council, declaring a historic first, adopted an annual growth policy yesterday to guide development in the county, but the document sidesteps the issues that have proved most confounding to managing growth.
The council voted 5 to 1 to approve the plan, with member William E. Hanna Jr. casting what he called "a protest vote" against a "weak" and "insignficant" outcome to what has been months of council effort.
Also yesterday, a move to speed up by one week the confirmation of County Executive Sidney Kramer's nominees to the County Planning Board failed. Four council members favored acting on the nominations of Republican John P. Hewitt and Democrat Carol G. Henry. But the effort failed because two-thirds of the council, or five votes, are needed for such action.
The nominations to the Planning Board -- the first by a county executive as the result of authority granted by the state legislature -- have proved controversial because of the selection process used by Kramer and because of objections to Hewitt. The Montgomery County branch of the NAACP has opposed Hewitt's nomination, saying he failed to dismantle a segregated work area at a public facility while he was parks director from 1957 to 1971.
The annual growth policy, which the council was required to adopt by June 30, is intended to provide a framework for the adminstration of the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. That law, adopted 13 years ago, mandates the County Planning Board to reject a subdivision plan unless it finds that the public facilities will be adequate to serve the subdivision along with all other approved development.
The plan adopted yesterday is much less ambitious than originally envisioned. For example, it calls for a task force to come up with a formula to determine whether there are adequate schools in a particular area.
Members of the council, the school board, the Planning Board and the executive branch were unable to hammer out an agreement on that thorny issue despite hours of work.
The council also wants a committee to study the timing for applying the rules in the ordinance: either when a subdivision is approved, as is now the case or when a building permit is issued, which Kramer favors. Also deferred were all questions relating to the redevelopment of Silver Spring.
The policy also spells out where development should be curtailed in the coming year.
Council member Bruce Adams agreed the document is not as broad in scope as its title suggests but defended it as a start in the right direction.
The council earlier in the day interviewed Kramer's choices for the planning board. Hewitt came in for a grilling on what he knew about a 1974 complaint that eight workers filed with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Hewitt denied any knowledge of it.
Adams is the only council member to say publicly he will vote against Hewitt, but a heavy lobbying campaign by the NAACP and some civic activists is under way. The vote will take place July 7.