The Howard County Council discussed the following item at its Oct. 15 meeting. For more information, call 992-2001.
ADEQUATE FACILITIES -- During a public hearing, developers and county businessmen urged council members to proceed more slowly in passing a proposed adequate public facilities bill because such legislation requires in-depth study to be effective.
The bill would forbid new development in areas of the county where facilities such as roads and schools are inadequate to serve the anticipated additional population. Howard County Executive Elizabeth Bobo says her proposal should help ease overcrowding at county schools, which are hard pressed to serve an expanding population resulting from rapid residential and commercial growth.
The council is scheduled to vote on the bill Nov. 5.
"Why rush an adequate public facilities ordinance," Dick Pettingill, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Howard County, said at the hearing. "We would prefer that it be fully understood" before being passed.
County planning chief Uri Avin, testifying at the hearing, said the legislation has been properly researched, and rejected developers' claims that the legislation, if passed, would virtually halt all development projects in the county. County planners, Avin said, have calculated the impact of 17 currently proposed development projects on county roads and schools and determined that at least half of those projects would comply with the proposed adequate facilities legislation.
"It would not shut the county down," Avin said.
Last fall, 62 percent of the county's schools had over-capacity enrollments, and about 15 percent of county roads had more traffic than they were designed to carry.
The bill is Bobo's first attempt to carry out the growth-control measures called for in the county's recently approved 20-year blueprint for growth.
Under the bill, developers would not be allowed to build in the county unless county officials first determined that roads within two miles or two major intersections of their project -- whichever is closest -- could handle the additional traffic. In addition, developers of residential projects would be required to ensure that a project would not result in overcrowding in nearby schools.
If county officials decided a project would overburden nearby roads, developers would have to make road improvements or pay the county to do so. Developers could join forces to upgrade the roads.
If a project would result in school crowding, developers would be required to make land available for building a future school to serve the expanding school-age population. The requirements could force developers to build their projects in phases rather than all at once.
The bill has drawn mixed public reaction so far. Some slow-growth advocates have claimed it doesn't go far enough to stem development, while some developers say it would force them to pay a disproportionate share of the cost of development projects.