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No more free rides on traffic Howard County: Council shouldn't continue to exempt projects from accounting for road impact.


A NEW HOWARD County Council that vows to be mor careful about development should have no trouble supporting this idea: It should not renew a law that allowed some developers a free pass on studying the traffic impact of their projects under the county's adequate public facilities ordinance.

The 6-year-old exemption is due to expire in April. Commercial development continues to grow in Howard, which has added nearly 5,000 new jobs in each of the past five years, according to state figures.

The exemption allows projects whose site development plans were filed before the adequate public facilities ordinance was enacted in 1992 to avoid the law's required road volume tests. It made sense to "grandfather" projects in the pipeline in 1992 so they wouldn't be saddled with unanticipated cost.

But developers would like to keep the exemption, apparently indefinitely. Rouse Co. Senior Vice President Alton J. Scavo says it is another tool to attract business. But unless the exemption is extended to projects that filed site development plans after 1992, its worth to companies considering construction in Howard County appears negligible.

Moreover, not doing the studies doesn't change reality. Projects approved without adequate roads do not help anyone's business climate, including developments that are subject to the studies and that do pay to cushion their impact.

Many companies have built in Howard in recent years undeterred by having to perform traffic studies and make whatever road improvements the results dictated. They paid this cost of doing business, because they wanted to locate in the county.

The County Council should let the traffic study exemption expire.

There are better ways to work with developers who are concerned about the cost of ensuring adequate infrastructure.

Pub Date: 12/21/98

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