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Council to Consider Town Growth Plan

Vic Bradshaw
Frederick News Post

(10/4/2003) How much residential growth the town experiences from 2004 to 2006 might be decided at the next few board of commissioners' meetings.

The process will start Monday night when the board considers a Residential Growth Management Plan. The initiative was written by Town Manager David Haller with input from Town Planner Michael Lucas.

The meeting will be held at the town office beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The plan calls for the town to issue no more than 30 residential building permits annually for the next three years. Twenty-five would be awarded based on a distribution formula, and the commissioners could allocate the remaining five in hardship or special circumstances.

The special circumstances provision would allow the board to issue permits to people looking to complete the last few homes in a subdivision or build on a single lot. That would facilitate "infill development" in the town, Mr. Lucas said.

Developers of multi-unit dwellings could save their allocation for up to three years until they accumulate enough permits to begin construction.

Emmitsburg has 221 lots available to receive building permits. Many of those homes would be served by a water line and a sewer line that badly need repair.

"We'd be dumping on hundreds of additional units," Ms. Haller said. "We've got to fix (the lines) before we continue at that unlimited pace."

Larry Schaffert, president of the Frederick County Builders Association, could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Haller said 90 building permits have been issued over the last two years, and he believed the demand would rise to 60 in 2004. He has suspended the issuance of permits until Oct. 10.

The restriction could be extended if needed, Mr. Haller said. However, he estimated that three years should be enough time for the town to complete the major infrastructure projects currently being planned.

"Then, if we're ready to relax these constraints and let the market demand dictate (building), we can probably do that," Mr. Haller said.

Mr. Lucas said the town's comprehensive plan mentions growth management policies, and management and protection of the town's resources. It also calls for the town to pace its growth with its ability to provide services at a reasonable cost.

"The comprehensive plan contemplates managed-growth strategy," the town planner said, "so it's not something new. It may be something that we haven't utilized in the past."

Mr. Haller said the measure also might foster sustained growth in the town rather than having a building boom followed by a steep decline in new housing.

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