Calvert County commissioners received on Tuesday a consultant's recommendation to raise impact fees--the charges paid by builders to cover demands their developments place on county facilities.
Developers who apply for a building permit now pay $3,950 per housing unit in impact fees, which are used to pay for new schools, county parks and trash facilities, said Chris Jakubiak, Calvert's principal planner. Nancy Stroud, a Florida-based consultant hired by the county to develop the study, recommended a higher rate to offset the impact of growth on schools and also included new charges for law enforcement, fire and rescue and roads.
The total new maximum fee would be $6,343, which Stroud said was a rate comparable to charges in other jurisdictions in the region and could bring the county about $4 million a year.
Jakubiak stressed that $6,343--the actual cost for services and facilities the study found attributable to a new housing unit--is the maximum amount the county could implement. He pointed out that several counties charge only a percentage of the total.
"The county wouldn't ask development to pay more than its fair share," Jakubiak said. "That would be illegal."
Although builders of single-family homes--90 percent of the county's construction--pay the fees, the increase would have the biggest effect on large shopping centers that tax Calvert's infrastructure. For example, Stroud said, a developer seeking to build a 100,000-square-foot shopping center would have nearly $300,000 tacked on to the upfront construction costs if the increase is approved.
Commissioners said this would be a deterrent for large commercial strips in the county.
"If they had any right minds and were good business people, they'd find somewhere else to go," said Commissioner Barbara K. Stinnett (D-At Large).
Commissioners asked for more information about the plan and have not yet set a date to vote on the increase.
Effort to Save La Plata House Ends
Waldorf real estate agent Reata Swanson says she has had to abandon her efforts to move a historic La Plata home from a parcel slated to become a construction site for an office building.
The Padgett-Posey house, named for its early occupants, is an unusually intact example of late Victorian architecture, according to Charles County's historic preservation officer. The 2 1/2-story house, built around 1898, sits on two acres near the heart of La Plata.
Swanson and her husband, William, had hoped to take possession of the house for a nominal fee and move it to a nearby lot before ground-clearing begins for the office building, which is to house Charles County's Department of Social Services. A ceremonial groundbreaking took place Nov. 2.
Swanson said Tuesday she had been unable to forge an agreement with Joseph Macomber, a managing member of the limited partnership that is building the headquarters building. She said she canceled tentative plans for a company to move the house yesterday.
Swanson said she had been unable to contact Macomber for about two weeks.
Macomber could not be reached directly Tuesday. But he sent this comment through an assistant at his offices in Snow Hill, on Maryland's Eastern Shore: "We are not blocking the restoration of this house. We are just not interested in doing business with the Swansons."
Macomber's lawyer, La Plata attorney Thomas Mudd, said Swanson had been unable to show his client that she could move the house before construction begins.
"His problem is at some point he needs to begin his project," Mudd said.
St. Mary's Managers Train at CCCC
St. Mary's County government managers have been brushing up on their problem solving skills, not to mention team building and conflict resolution.
Supervisors from 10 county departments have taken part in a training program developed with Charles County Community College's Economic and Community Development Institute. Sessions were conducted at the campus in Leonardtown.
County Human Resources Director Melvin A. McClintock and Louise Buchanan of the institute developed a "Management Development Toolbox" program that targeted 40 supervisors and mid-level managers. The three-day course also addressed personnel law, workplace diversity issues, time management, business writing and communication skills.