Council debates charging developer impact fee

December 14, 1993|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

A developer who wants Annapolis' permission to build 162 townhouses between Aris T. Allen Boulevard and Bywater Road would not have to pay nearly $500,000 toward school construction that a developer in the county would have to pay.

The subdivision proposed by the Forest Drive Development Corp. would also cause crowding at Parole Elementary School -- a prospect that fueled debate last night at the City Council meeting.

Council members and staff argued over whether the city should honor the county's developer impact fees during a public hearing on the development proposal.

When the county adopted the fees that are used to offset the cost of providing services such as schools to new developments, the city was exempted because it controls land use within its borders.

So, although the county Board of Education recommended this fall against construction of Oxford Landing because it would cause school crowding, the city does not have to abide by that recommendation. Nor does it have to collect the fees that the county would to allow construction to proceed.

The city Planning Commission and the Department of Planning and Zoning recommended approval of the 18.5-acre project despite the potential crowding.

Planning Director Eileen Fogarty said the developer designed a moderately priced community while preserving three acres of natural area, providing a community pavilion and tot lots and pledging to build one-third of a three-lane expansion to Bywater Road.

During negotiations, the developer reduced the number of units it was proposing by about 20 percent, she said.

"This is a nice looking project," Ms. Fogarty said.

She added that she felt it would be unfair to tag this developer with the $500,000 fee because the school board responded so late.

The developer has redesigned the project three times in two years to meet city demands, she said.

Alderman Samuel Gilmer, a Ward 3 Democrat, chastised Ms. Fogarty and her department for not working with the council to develop a policy dealing with the county impact fees sooner.

"We don't want to stop development, but, at the same time, we want to protect our school children," Alderman Gilmer said.

Alderman John Hammond, a Ward 1 Republican, asked city planners to investigate the possibility of creating impact fees several months ago, but planners said last night that little headway has been made.

This is the second recent project in the city that the county Board of Education has recommended against because it could cause classroom crowding, Alderman Gilmer said.

The school board also recommended against Oxford Mews, a 194-unit subdivision at the end of Yawl Road that was approved by the council.

Ms. Fogarty reported last night that the same area around Oxford Mews and Oxford Landing has the potential for the development of 1,000 more units.

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