Officials identify areas on hold


Carroll County planning officials identified yesterday the four South Carroll subdivisions where development will be halted because of crowded elementary and middle schools.

In an unprecedented move, county planners announced last month that they would deny building permits to four proposed developments in Sykesville, Mount Airy and Eldersburg - a practice that has been common in Howard County for a decade. They delayed naming the subdivisions until they had mailed a letter to the developer of each.

The subdivisions are: Hood Hills, a 21-lot development on Deer Park Road; Freedom Hills Farms, a 41-lot development on Route 97 near Obrecht Road; the Thompson property, a one-lot development on Old Washington Road; and Pine Brook Farm II, a 36-lot development on Route 97 near Buckhorn Road.

The three larger developments might have faced required revisions because of much-debated amendments to county zoning law, passed last week. County officials said halting the developments because of school crowding was unrelated to the six-month zoning debate.

Crowding has been a high-profile issue in South Carroll for several years, with area parents calling for a halt to development until the problem eases.

Edward Primoff, owner of the Freedom Hills property and one of the county's leading property-rights activists, said he hasn't had time to review the decision to halt his subdivision.

"I have no comment for the time being," said Primoff, a member of the appointed committee that wrote the original zoning law, which was criticized for expanding allowed development on agricultural land.

Developers of the other three properties could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Carroll is so populated that school construction plans for the next six years don't promise enough relief of crowding for construction of the subdivisions to proceed, County Attorney Kimberly A. Millender told the Carroll commissioners two weeks ago.

The developments are being halted under a measure the county calls its concurrency management plan.

That plan is designed to prevent houses from springing up in areas where roads, schools and sewer and water systems are beyond capacity. Carroll residents have complained about the system for the past several years, saying it is not strict enough.

The developers of each subdivision can appeal the permit denials to the county's board of zoning appeals and, ultimately, to Circuit Court.

The developers of the subdivisions automatically will have an opportunity at review when measures to alleviate crowding are added to the county's six-year school plan.

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