The county will begin collecting fees Aug. 3 for reviewing subdivision plans submitted to municipalities, a service previously performed for free.
The fees are expected to raise about $45,000 for the current fiscal year.
"We have to find ways to get revenue," said Commissioner President Donald I. Dell. "I've never liked user fees, but they're more equitable than across-the-board real estate taxes."
The fees will be charged to developers. Fees will be lower for plans within Mount Airy, Sykesville and Westminster because those municipalities provide more thorough
reviews than do the other five towns.
Fees also will vary depending on how far along the plan is in the review process and how many lots are included in the plan.
Municipalities have the authority to approve development within their jurisdictions, but some don't have enough staff to perform the required reviews and engineering. In those cases, the county provides a full review.
Bureau of Development Review Chief Franklin G. Schaeffer said towns decide the degree of service they want from the county on plan reviews.
9- Jeffrey Powers, Carroll chapter president
of the Home Builders Association of Maryland (HBAM), expressed concern that developers could end up paying both the municipality and the county for a review. The county's comments on plans sometimes are only "cursory" and have little influence, he said.
Municipalities often send subdivision plans to the county as a courtesy for informational purposes or to gain approval for a specific aspect of the development, such as storm water management.
"I think there will be a lot of balking throughout the development community because it's double-dipping," said Powers. "The county can dictate little to the developer. The municipality is the dictating factor."
Mr. Dell said developers would not be assessed a "dual charge."
"They'll only pay for the work they have done," he said.
A July 6 letter sent to the eight mayors from the commissioners said fees will be collected by the county for "all new projects" within the municipalities, except those undertaken by government.
The county doesn't have a formal policy defining instances in which a fee wouldn't be charged for a plan sent to the county development review office for any purpose.
Mr. Powers said HBAM had not discussed the new fees but would establish a position on the issue by the fall.