Three developers who want to build homes on environmentally sensitive land near the Chesapeake Bay have asked the county for special growth allocations.

Planners are studying the applications and will recommend whether to allow development in the so-called "critical areas," which refer to land surrounding the bay and its tidal tributaries, said Rich Hall, an environmental planner with the Harford Department ofPlanning and Zoning.

Each year the county accepts applications for growth allocations,which would allow developers to build on limited acres in critical areas.

No allocations were granted last year, Hall said.

The following applications for critical growth areas were submitted by the Dec. 31 deadline:

* BLC Properties Inc. (formerly Bata Land Properties) has asked for an allocation for 23 acres, for part of a 111-acredevelopment of condominiums and town houses called Riverside-South 40.

* Frederick Ward & Associates Inc. is requesting to build on 19.5 acres, part of a 122-acre development of 106 single-family homes called Otter Creek Landing.

* Harford landowner Leonard McGrady wants to build on 7.4 acres near Mariner Point Park in Joppatowne. He plans 10 single-family homes.

The critical areas program was createdby the state with the intent of controlling the encroachment of development on the Chesapeake Bay.

The program was begun in 1985, whenall land within 1,000

feet of the mean high tide of the bay and its tributary was designated, Hall said.

Three categories were established:

Resource-Conservation Areas for undeveloped areas; Limited Development Areas, where moderate development existed; and Intensely Developed Areas, where more dense development existed.

In Harford, about 8,200 acres were initially placed in the critical areas program, Hall said. The state allowed the county to upgrade 278 of those acres if it so wished.

Half of that total -- 139 acres -- can be available for upgrade from LDA to IDA, with the other half allowed to be upgraded from RCA to either of the other two, Hall said.

All threeof the applications the county received last week requested upgradesof land from RCA to IDA. Currently, about 46 acres are left for the county to reclassify.

"It's a limited pot," Hall said Friday.

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