Council votes $250 rise in impact fee

January 12, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

The Town Council last night unanimously approved a $250 increase in Sykesville's impact fee.

Builders will pay $475 for each new home constructed in the town of 2,300.

The ordinance was introduced last month without a set amount. The Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended increasing the fee to $1,060. That proposal brought several developers to last night's meeting.

New developments will add about 370 new homes in the next three years and increase Sykesville's population by 28 percent.

The $475 fee, which will take effect in 20 days, will be in addition to the $2,700 impact fee and $7,200 sewer and water hook-up fees charged by the county. Builders in South Carroll also pay $800 for construction that has an impact on the Liberty Reservoir.

"It is becoming increasingly difficult for home buyers to absorb all these costs," said Jeff Powers, vice president of Powers Construction, which is building the 234-home Hawk Ridge subdivision on Obrecht Road. "I am building similar homes in Eldersburg, which would have a cost advantage over homes within the town."

Mr. Powers has already sold about 60 homes in Hawk Ridge, where costs range from $170,000 to $210,000. He said the feared $800 increase would have been "an undue hardship on builders."

"We meet and exceed the county's standards in every category," said Mr. Powers. "We shouldn't have to pay for a sidewalk project in an older development."

Mr. Powers argued for a "much-reduced" fee, which would not apply to houses now being built.

He also asked for consideration of the 15 homes he has under contract now. He said he would have to absorb the difference. The council declined to amend the ordinance as it was written.

Town planners said the impact fees help the town pay for general municipal administration, road construction and maintenance, and police and fire protection.

Councilman Jonathan Herman said the town has no alternative, except raising everyone's taxes.

"Even if a developer only plans a few houses, there will be an impact on the town," said Mr. Herman. "It may be hard for any single developer to see that."

Councilman Walter R. White proposed setting the new fee at $500, before members finally voted on the $475 figure.

Lou Breitenother, who is building 133 homes in Shannon Run on Norris Avenue, said any increase will put him at a disadvantage with builders outside the town. He wanted specifics on the underlying reasons for the increase.

"We are not just talking about another $1,000," he said. "When you put all the pieces of the puzzle together, it will be well over $10,000 in extra fees tacked on to the cost of a house."

He said he understood the need for a fee: "We want Sykesville to prosper, too. We know impact fees will help the town to do that."

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