TOM BOZZUTO BELIEVED HIS COMPANY WAS building according to county regulations at Clarksburg Town Center, a development in Montgomery County, Md. But an examination of the community by Clarksburg residents found that Bozzuto's four-story, 53-foot-high condo building—along with hundreds of other builders' townhomes—violated height limits, and more than 100 homes were built too close to the street. “Nobody was willfully violating the plan,” says Bozzuto, CEO of The Bozzuto Group, based in Greenbelt, Md.
Bozzuto and developer Newland Communities maintain that county planning staff approved the four-story building, although the original site plan limited the height of townhomes to 35 feet and multi-unit buildings to 45 feet.
Officials acknowledged confusion within the permitting process. Both the Park and Planning Commission and the Department of Permitting Services thought the other was checking heights. Nancy Lineman, spokesperson for the commission, says the agencies have clarified their roles. “Permitting Services will be doing all the on-the-ground checking,” she says. Developers and builders must now submit height and setback information, certified by an engineer, requirements that were not previously part of the approval process.
The county is requiring the builders and developers of those projects to resubmit their plans according to the new guidelines. For Bozzuto and his fellow Clarksburg builders, this means redesigning the remaining construction phases that haven't broken ground. Moving forward, Bozzuto says he hopes the permitting process will be smoother. “If they could inject some simplicity into the system, I'd be delighted,” says.
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