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Emmitsburg Halts Building Permits

Vic Bradshaw
Frederick News Post

(9/22/03) Home-building in the town has been blocked at least until early October, and the building-permit ban could Wad to a plan aimed at controlling Emmitsburg's growth rate.

Town Manager David Haller temporarily suspended the issuance of residential building permits from Aug. 29 until Oct. 10 because he wanted to review town permitting procedures. That review is complete and viable processes are in place, and Mr. Haller said that in the downtime, he worked on a way for the town to manage its growth better.

The town issued about two building permits a month in 2002 and has averaged about four a month this year, Mr. Haller estimated. However, he said he believes Emmitsburg is poised to enter a rapid growth phase because so many lots are approved for development.

"Right now, we have 150-plus lots waiting to go," he said. "We were never sitting in that position before."

Mr. Haller said he believes the town might benefit from having procedures in place to help control the growth rate, so he developed a plan and has had it checked by other staff members. Because the proposal hasn't been presented to the board of commissioners, he wouldn't provide details about it.

The reason for his efforts, Mr. Haller said, was his belief that the town needs time to repair and upgrade parts of its infrastructure, which takes time and money. He also said the town should benefit if its growth rate is steadier and more sustainable.

If the board wants to consider the plan, Mr. Haller said he expected it would be placed on the agenda for the Oct. 6 meeting.

"Some changes might be advantageous for some reasons," he said. "We'll see if the mayor and commissioners agree or disagree."

Regardless of whether the board opts to consider the plan, Mr. Haller said the issues he had with the residential building permitting process have been addressed and a more rigid schedule for fulfilling permit requests has been set. He said no builders have asked to override the permit-suspension order.

The building-permit suspension could be lifted as planned, Mr. Haller said, or might be extended if the board opts to consider the growth-control proposal.

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