County to allow building

June 11, 2003|by TARA REILLY

Washington County's ban on growth in rural residential areas was eased Tuesday when the County Commissioners voted to allow to move forward eight proposed subdivisions consisting of 313 housing units that had been held up by the moratorium.

The 3-1 vote came a month after the commissioners approved extending the moratorium up to the end of October.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook, Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell and Commissioner James F. Kercheval voted to allow the proposed units to move ahead as long as preliminary plats for the developments are approved by the Planning Commission by Oct. 31.

A combined 313 units are to be built in eight subdivisions.

Snook, Kercheval and Wivell said Tuesday they supported allowing the housing units to move forward because the developers had already submitted costly preliminary plans before the moratorium was adopted.


Major rural residential development plans submitted after the moratorium took affect will not be considered for approval until the moratorium is lifted.

"The last board kind of enacted the moratorium fairly quickly," Snook said after Tuesday's meeting. "This was to be fair to everyone."

"I tried to put myself in the shoes of the property owners," Wivell said after the meeting.

Snook and Wivell said Tuesday night they think the proposed 313 housing units will decrease as the developments move through the planning process and must meet environmental and infrastructure requirements.

Commissioner Doris J. Nipps voted against allowing the developments to proceed. Commissioner John C. Munson was not at the meeting.

The former board of commissioners approved the moratorium at the end of October 2002 to protect farmland and to keep the county's ground water supply from drying up.

The moratorium applies to residential subdivisions of six or more lots on land outside the designated Urban or Town Growth areas, which are areas where growth is encouraged.

It does not apply to the issuance of building permits.

Developers and others in the building industry have asked that the moratorium be lifted. Preservationists have said it's a necessary tool to control growth.

Snook and Wivell said they think the moratorium is still effective in controlling development in rural areas, despite allowing the 313 housing units to move forward.

They said property owners are no longer submitting plans for major subdivisions outside of nongrowth areas because they know they will not be accepted by the county.

"People know it's in place, and they're not submitting them," Wivell said.

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