Panel considers eliminating limit on subdivisions Builders object to restriction

The Carroll County Planning Commission is expected to decide next month whether to lift a 20-year-old restriction on how fast houses can go up in a subdivision.

Carroll builders would like to see the 25-lots-per-quarter rule eliminated or modified. The regulation limits to 25 the number of lots in a subdivision that can be recorded in each quarter of a year. A lot must be recorded before a building permit can be issued, so it would take a developer, for example, one year to complete a 100-lot subdivision.


"The lifting of the 25 lots per quarter [restriction] wouldn't necessarily cause obscene development," said Jeffrey Powers, vice president of Powers Homes and president of the Carroll County chapter of the Homebuilders Association of Maryland. He said the county could retain controls on the pace of development through its adequate facilities law.

Commission members are worried that lifting the rule could damage the county's efforts to have its public facilities keep pace with growth, a concern echoed by the Board of Education. The panel discussed the issue yesterday. Barbara J. Dixon, planning commission chairwoman, said she opposed lifting the rule because it "puts controls on our growth in the county."


The school system needs the 25-lot rule as a growth management measure, said Vernon Smith, director of school support services.

Most local government departments that review subdivisions voiced no objections to lifting the 25-lot rule. Some said it would be easier to review a single plan for streets rather than four plans, each for one-fourth of the subdivision.

The Carroll chapter of the state Homebuilders Association asked the planning commission last month to abandon the rule.

"The economics of today have made it very difficult to develop in 25-lot increments," Mr. Powers said.

Builders would like to record 100 lots a quarter, Mr. Powers said. He said county requirements for roads, water and sewer lines have increased to the point that builders can't recover their up-front costs from the sale of the first 25 lots.