Howard County would be allowed to impose impact fees on new residential and commercial development to help pay for roads and schools, under local legislation backed yesterday by the county's delegation to the General Assembly.
The bill received support of all six of the county's delegates and two of its three senators. It still must be approved by the full General Assembly, which routinely approves local legislation once it clears the delegation.
County Executive Charles I. Ecker, who requested the enabling legislation, said he was not sure if he would seek to levy impact fees on developers. "I don't know if we will use it, but I want the option," he said.
Currently, 14 counties have some form of impact fees, according the state's Legislative Reference Service. Usually, developers pay a certain fee for each home or square foot of commercial space they build.
In the Baltimore metropolitan area, impact fees are in place in Anne Arundel and Carroll counties. Anne Arundel charges $2,629 for each single family home, while the fee in Carroll is $4,990 per home.
Mr. Ecker said he may propose a levy similar to impact fees in legislation he is now drafting, an adequate public facilities bill designed to steer growth away from areas where roads and schools are overburdened.
He said his bill may include abatement fees, which would require a developer to pay for specific road or school improvement to accommodate a subdivision instead of a set fee for each home built.
Sen. Thomas M. Yeager, D-13th, was alone in opposing the impact fee bill, calling it "pro-growth" legislation because it was not linked to passage of an adequate facilities law. He proposed an amendment to link the two, but it was defeated.
Besides defeating an effort to link impact fees to an adequate public facilities ordinance, the delegation voted down two other amendments. One would have placed a three-year sunset provision on the legislation. The other would have exempted from impact fees new homes or mobile homes with a construction cost of less than $90,000, houses of worship and hospitals.