Developers clear first adequate-facilities hurdle, but others will follow


So far, the county's adequate public facilities law hasn't impeded over 100 subdivisions that are exempt from the growth regulations -- but the next step for 39 of them might prove more difficult.

The developers of the residential and commercial projects met a Monday deadline for filing road construction drawings and other plans, but the next hurdle in maintaining the exemptions requires some developers to pay all fees and post bonds assuring construction of roads and storm drains.

"Very few plans have been denied for failure to meet [adequate facilities law] deadlines," said Elmina Hilsenrath, the county's chief of community planning and land development.

The new law, approved Feb. 3 by the County Council, could prohibit construction for up to four years in areas with overcrowded elementary schools or force developers to help pay for improvements for congested intersections. But projects with initial plans approved by April 10 are exempt from the requirements, provided that they meet additional deadlines written into the law.

Ms. Hilsenrath said dealing with exempted plans -- some filed as early as 1987 but put on hold for economic or other reasons -- has been surprisingly trouble-free.

"We expected that we would be inundated with people trying to process plans at the last minute," she said. But plans have progressed through the system at a fairly even pace.

Developers who miss any of the deadlines mandated by the adequate public facilities law will be forced to start over the lengthy county planning and zoning approval process.

"If you missed your deadline in a closed school district, in all likelihood, you will not be able to develop for four years," Ms. Hilsenrath said.

Monday was the deadline for submitting original road construction drawings for final plans and preliminary plans for projects with fewer than 50 residential units.

Many of the exempted plans were filed in anticipation of a limit on building permits enacted in 1989.

But developers of about two dozen such speculative projects told county planners early this spring that they did not intend to proceed with development, Ms. Hilsenrath said. Those plans were removed from the process.

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