Howard County's new county executive broke with his predecessor this week by offering ideas for growth control policies that would ease the burden on builders.

Charles I. Ecker, whose Republican administration is only a week old, said former county executive Elizabeth Bobo's proposed adequate public facility law appears to unfairly require county developers to fix existing problems if they want to build in the county.

He asked a task force he created Monday to study ways to rewrite the legislation so builders would be required only to contribute to alleviating road congestion and school crowding problems created by their projects. The County Council ultimately would consider any proposal.

"What {Ecker} is saying is a substantial shift," said Pamela B. Sorota, a land-use lawyer in Howard County. "The previous bill would have required extensive correction of past deficiencies, and we as a law firm have questioned whether that is legal."

Ecker also went before the county's state legislative delegation Wednesday night seeking authority to impose impact fees on new development that would cover the costs of mitigating construction-caused problems.

"I'm not saying I would impose the fees at this point, but I would like the option," Ecker said.

Bobo had opposed impact fees because she said they would make it too easy for developers to move forward with their projects. Impact fees rarely generate enough money to offset the problems caused by construction, said County Council Chairman C. Vernon Gray (D-District 3).

Instead, Bobo's adequate public facility proposal would have required developers wishing to build near overburdened schools and roads to provide land for new schools or road improvements before moving forward.

Scot Hoeksema, president of a civic coalition that represents about 30 neighborhood groups, said Ecker's proposals are worth considering as long as the county executive sticks to Bobo's annual targets for new development: 2,500 new housing units a year and 3,000 jobs. Both targets would represent a sharp reduction from the growth patterns that existed before the current economic slump hit the area.

Supporters of Bobo's proposal argued that the requirement to correct existing problems was not unfair to developers. They said builders had the option of postponing or scaling back their projects until the county corrected deficient conditions.

A state home builders' group said it opposes impact fees because the costs are almost always passed on to home buyers, raising the price of housing.

"It's not a fee. It's a tax," said Frank Miamo, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Maryland. "If you are a new home buyer, it amounts to double taxation. You pay your part of the impact fee and you still pay property taxes."