The following were among actions taken at Thursday's meeting of the Prince George's County Council. For more information, call 952-5182.
SPRINKLER LEGISLATION -- The council voted unanimously to require automatic fire sprinkler systems in all new commercial and residential buildings -- including new single-family homes built after 1991.
The action makes the county the first large jurisdiction in the Washington area and the first in Maryland to require fire sprinkler systems in private homes.
The new law, proposed by County Executive Parris Glendening, will require builders of new hotels, motels, dormitories and all apartment buildings, to install sprinkler systems beginning June 30, 1988. New town houses must have sprinklers, beginning Dec. 31, 1988 and new single-family homes beginning Dec. 31, 1991.
Tony DeStefano, spokesman for the county fire department, said he was pleased with the vote, which came six hours after a fire gutted a Camp Springs apartment building, displacing 12 families and causing $380,000 in damage. Fire officials testifying at a public hearing before the vote on the new law, used the morning fire as an example of the need for sprinkler systems. The apartment complex had smoke alarms but not a sprinkler system.
County law now requires sprinkler systems in hotels, motels and apartment buildings higher than six stories.
County Fire Chief James Estep said he strongly supports the new law particularly in single-family homes where 175 county residents have died during the past 10 years as a result of smoke and fire injuries. He said about 75 percent of those deaths might have been prevented if sprinklers had been in the homes.
Laurel Mayor Danni Duniho said she also was pleased with the council's vote. She said her City Council last week adopted a sprinkler system modeled after the county's new law.
However, Ed Godin vice president of Design-Tech Builders, Inc. in Silver Spring, said he would rather see the sprinklers installed on a voluntary basis.
"The cost of installing sprinkler systems will make the cost of already high-priced homes go even higher," Godin said.
DAY CARE LEGISLATION -- The council rejected, in a 4 to 4 vote, legislation that some parents say would have resulted in the opening of more day care centers in the county.
The legislation would have authorized county officials to grant developers of commercial and residential properties additional space -- more than zoning allows -- if they include day care centers in their design plans.
Members Anthony Cicoria, Sue V. Mills, James Herl and Richard Castaldi voted against the bill saying they did not like the idea of giving developers increased density, even in exchange for day care centers. Member Frank Casula abstained.
Member Jo Ann T. Bell sponsored the bill because she said her constituents have complained that day care centers are scarce in the county, except for a few family and group centers and a day care center for children of county employes.
The bill would have allowed developers who provide day care centers in areas zoned for residential use an increase in density of up to 10 percent more space while commercial developers would have received up to seven percent more space.
The council defeated the bill despite strong public support for it during a public hearing on the issue.
Thomas R. Hendershot, chairman of the county Board of Education, told the council he favored the bill because the county lacks affordable day care centers.
"Some of our elementary schools have child care, but the need for more is great," Hendershot said.
According to Marty Worshtil of the Commission for Children and Youth, there are an estimated 143 licensed group day care centers with 7,000 children and 858 family centers with 5,000 children in Prince George's County.
Additionally, there are about 1,200 children enrolled in the school system's before- and after-school child care programs and about 70 children in an Upper Marlboro day care center for children of county employes.
Currently, anyone who wants to open a day care center other than in a private home must go through a "special exception" process, which county officials say can take from several months to several years to complete.
Day care centers in private homes, which can care for a maximum of six children, are licensed by the county's Department of Health.
Mills said she would reintroduce new legislation in January that either would require developers to include day care centers in their plans or would offer developers incentives other than increased space to include the centers.