Public facilities ordinance has noticeable slant
This letter addresses the adequate public facilities ordinance that the board of commissioners is about to enact.
First, a few facts. Because Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown seems to have been the most involved in crafting the new ordinance, I'll start by pointing out some interesting items in it.
Even though this letter focuses on Mr. Brown, it in no way absolves our other two commissioners of the part they played in the ordinance. Let me refresh your memory with the following.
On March 31, 1996, Mr. Brown's letter regarding Senate Bill 649 appeared in The Sun in Carroll. Mr. Brown was outraged by state Sen. Larry E. Haines' complete disregard for the citizens of Carroll by not allowing comment on his proposal before he took it to Annapolis.
In fact, Mr. Brown wrote, "Being ignored as a commissioner, however, is not what goads me to publicly take issue with Mr. Haines and our delegation. It is being ignored as a citizen that truly outrages me."
In the new adequate public facilities ordinance, the wood "developer or applicant" is mentioned no less than 17 times. The word "citizen(s)" is never mentioned. In fact, the only reference .. to citizen input or public hearing was removed in the now infamous closed-door meetings held by the commissioner.
The original wording was as follows: (Section VI, Item G.3 now removed), "The director of the Department of Planning and Development will ensure that all requirements of Article 66B, Section 13.01, et seq., are met, including, but not limited to, the requiring of a public hearing and review for consistency with the master plan."
Mr. Brown wrote in the same letter that "Dick Yates and I expanded the Planning and Zoning Commission to the maximum size allowed by state law and then appointed people who are committed to the principle that growth should not be allowed at rates which outpace our ability to provide adequate public facilities, such as schools and improved roads."
The new adequate facilities ordinance eliminates the Planning and Zoning Commission's authority to exercise its judgment about whether development should occur or not, and at what rate. All power to make those decisions are now in the hands of the planning director and staff.
There is the exemption of 6,400 already recorded lots. Add to this the 6,000 lots in the "pipeline" not yet recorded, and thousands of new homes will go to South Carroll alone.
The police portion of the law states that the threshold for police in our county will be one per 1,000 residents. When I asked Mr. Brown how we will address the fact that only a handful of state troopers are assigned to South Carroll, he responded that until the state police indicate to the Board of County Commissioners that they can no longer support South Carroll, there is "nothing we can do, but if Eldersburg would like to incorporate, then it can form its own police force" (and pay for it).
On Jan. 6, Mr. Brown stated publicly that "This ordinance is the first opportunity for real growth control that this board of commissioners has had."
I challenged Mr. Brown on that statement, saying there, in fact, had been a real opportunity more than a year ago with IDCO -- the Interim Development Control Ordinance -- but because the commissioners bowed to pressure from the homebuilding industry, the restriction on building permits was removed, rendering the IDCO useless to control anything. Mr. Brown denied there were ever building permit restrictions in the IDCO.
If that were the case, why did more than 400 Carroll County residents send coupons to Mr. Yates at a meeting held in North Carroll, regarding IDCO with requests to enact it with the building permits intact?
Why in the July/August edition of Maryland Homebuilder magazine is it stated by then-President Greg Dorsey that "exemptions made in the second draft [of IDCO] that will ultimately benefit the building industry. Encouraging changes were made including the removal of building permits, the exclusion of minor subdivisions and off conveyances." It further stated in the article that "IDCO, part II, revealed a major victory for the building industry."
There seems to me to be a very one-sided slant to this new law. Am I the only person who feels this way?
New York fifth-grader seeks U.S. mementos
My fifth-grade class is studying the United States and its geography. Will you send me a postcard, pictures, posters, magazines or anything that will help me learn more about your state, our country and its people?
Please send information to me at Grandview School, Grandview Avenue, Catskill, N.Y. 12414.
Pub Date: 2/01/98