ANNAPOLIS, JULY 20 -- Anne Arundel County Executive O. James Lighthizer proposed a revamped version of controversial impact fee legislation today, including a 50 percent reduction in the fees he originally recommended charging builders for new construction in the county.
The revised version of the bill, which County Council members said is likely to pass next month with only slight modifications, would phase in the fees over three years and would draw on matching funds from the county to compensate for the reduced fees, Lighthizer said.
His legislation, submitted to the council tonight, incorporates the major recommendations of an ad hoc committee appointed to study the bill.
The original version, which encountered strong opposition from developers, real estate agents and potential home buyers, called for an impact fee of $4,820 for a new single-family house and a fee of close to $4,290 for every 1,000 square feet for retail commercial buildings in an effort to raise about $15 million annually. The legislation is expected to help defray the cost of the impact of new houses and other development on roads and schools.
Lighthizer said yesterday that he expects the changes to make the legislation "more palatable" to original opponents of the bill.
Four of the seven council members contacted today said they would approve the revised version of the bill when it is placed before the council for a vote on Aug. 3.
"I'm surprised he accepted all the recommendations," said council member Theodore Sophocleus (D-Linthicum).
Despite the revisions, council member Michael Gilligan (D-Glen Burnie) said he remained opposed to the bill. "To this day no one has shown me we have to have impact fees," he said.
The use of impact fees in Anne Arundel was found to be "inappropriate," according to a recently completed study by Arthur D. Little Co. at the request of the Anne Arundel Trade Council, a coalition of businesses in the region.
The study compared development here to similar sized areas across the nation that have already imposed impact fees. It concluded that Anne Arundel's relatively low growth rate of 1 percent a year made impact fees "neither reasonable nor appropriate," said Greg Girard, an economic development specialist who helped prepare the report.
Lighthizer's revised bill also would require the county to match the total fee collected with tax dollars set aside for road and school improvement.
If the bill is approved, Anne Arundel would become the only county in Maryland or the Washington metropolitan area to levy countywide impact fees and the only county to charge fees based on the impact of development on schools as well as roads.