Bill seeks freeze on construction of senior homes in Harford Co.


The Harford County Council will hold a hearing Tuesday night on a bill seeking a 90-day moratorium on the construction of housing for the elderly.

The panel wants to determine whether developers are using the housing designation to circumvent a law limiting residential growth in crowded school districts.

"There has been a flurry of activity in the development of housing for the elderly in recent months," said Councilman Robert G. Cassilly, a Republican representing the Bel Air area. "Is the objective to serve the needs of the elderly, or are developers doing this to get around the law and get new houses on the market?

"That's what we want to find out," he said.

"This has been like a tiger that has jumped up and bit us in the butt," said Councilman Dion F. Guthrie. "All of a sudden, it looks as if builders are calling their developments housing for the elderly as a way of getting around the [adequate public facilities] law that became effective in July."

Guthrie, the only Democrat on the council and the representative of Joppa and Edgewood, was referring to a law that prohibits preliminary approval of new residential development in any school district with a school exceeding 105 percent its student capacity.

Cassilly said several housing developments for buyers age 55 or older have popped up in the Bel Air area recently.

Susan Stroud Parker, a spokeswoman for the Home Builders Association of Maryland, said the industry was opposed to the legislation.

Parker said such a moratorium could reduce the supply of housing to a segment of the market that is underserved in the county.

She said she disagreed with members of the council who suggested that developers were using elderly housing to circumvent the county's laws.

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