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Public hearing planned on Carroll-growth law


In an effort to revamp Carroll County's adequate-facilities law, residents soon will have an opportunity to review and comment on changes to the existing ordinance.

The county commissioners voted yesterday to set a public hearing on the proposed changes to the adequate-facilities law, along with revisions to ordinances pertaining to environmental requirements for new developments.

Changes to environmental planning ordinances include those regarding forest conservation; floodplain management; storm water management; and grading, erosion and sediment control.

Three proposals

The county Department of Planning also drafted three proposals on water resource management, landscape enhancement and management of storm sewer systems. Several of the requirements are in practice, and the county wants to formalize them, said County Attorney Kim Millender.

The overhaul of the county's adequate-facilities law and other ordinances related to growth comes in response to Carroll's yearlong freeze on residential development, which is set to expire in June. The commissioners imposed the freeze to give the Planning Department time to fix the county's growth laws.

Revisions to the adequate-facilities law are meant to better control residential growth from overwhelming schools, roads, the water supply, and police, fire and medical services.

Under the proposed changes, residential development in the county would have to meet more stringent adequate-facilities standards and would be required to pass two tests before developers could proceed with their plans.

The proposal also adds standards to determine "approaching inadequacy" and "inadequacy." In both cases, the Planning and Zoning Commission could place conditions on proposed projects if the developer offers mitigation or there are plans in the capital improvement program to address the inadequate facilities, said Steve Horn, the county's planning director.

The current adequate-facilities law provides for one test in determining adequacy at the planning stage. Once the development plan passes that test, the developer can proceed without being retested for adequacy as the project gets closer to construction, Horn said.

The 'Achilles' heel'

That's the "Achilles' heel" of the process, said Commissioner Dean L. Minnich.

As part of the proposed changes, the county would, for the first time, consider the cumulative impact of growth within the county and municipalities when development plans are considered, Horn said.

Yesterday, the commissioners approved a contract worth $78,720 with Tischler & Associates in Bethesda to develop a database-driven model to track and project the cumulative impact of growth.

Horn said Tischler would design and create the model as well as provide technical assistance in implementing it.

The preliminary work is expected to be completed by April 15 and would be implemented by May 15, Horn said.

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