New fees by county too costly for town Major subdivision in works as officials terminate review

July 01, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Union Bridge has decided to stop having the county government review subdivision plans for the town, just as the largest subdivision in municipal history moves a step closer to construction.

Union Bridge officials concluded that new county fees are too expensive for developers, who will raise prices to recover their costs. The new fees go into effect today.

Meanwhile, attorney Gordon D. Fronk said last week he is close to a contract with a builder for the Phillips property. The 317 single-family houses and townhouses planned on Fronk's 120-acre property on Route 75 would double Union Bridge's population of 930.

Fronk declined to identify the builder. He confirmed earlier that local builder Martin K. P. Hill, president of Masonry Contractors Inc. in Hampstead, was one of three who had expressed interest.

Hill could not be reached for comment.

Union Bridge Mayor Perry L. Jones said the town planning commission concluded that new county review fees were "way out of sight." He said the commission also was concerned about duplication of town and county reviews.

"We're just trying to save the developer some money, and we just don't like the idea that the developer gets charged twice, because you know that ends up coming back on the home buyer," Jones said.

County development review fees will increase from $100 to $400 a lot for a minor subdivision, and from $1,050 plus $40 a lot to $1,650 plus $130 a lot for a final plan for a major subdivision, he said.

Although mayors from Carroll's eight municipalities protested the increase in county fees, only Union Bridge dropped the review service. Mount Airy and Taneytown decided on limited county service, which will cover county staff reviews and distribution of plans to other agencies for comments, but the county will not coordinate the distribution or make sure agencies return necessary comments.

James L. Schumacher, chairman of the Union Bridge planning commission and town project manager, said the town might solicit proposals from private engineers to conduct the reviews, perhaps retaining a consulting engineer jointly with Taneytown and New Windsor.

Taneytown Mayor W. Robert Flickinger recently proposed a unified engineering contract.

Union Bridge has used the engineering services of Wilson T. Ballard Co. for reviews of planned water and sewer line extensions. Taneytown and New Windsor also retain consulting engineers for subdivision reviews.

Planning commission member Joseph Kreimer said the fee increase was a major factor in the decision to drop the county reviews. He suggested that a builder could offer the town more amenities in a subdivision if the town holds down the cost of reviews.

Councilwoman Bonnie Hyde, liaison to the planning commission, said she agreed with Schumacher that county and town reviews involve unnecessary duplication.

Citizens for Responsible Growth of Union Bridge, formed two years ago to monitor plans for the Phillips property, is concerned about sinkholes on the site because of nearby quarry operations.

Those liability questions, raised in 1995, never have been zTC answered, said Deborah Doxzon, a member of the group.

Schumacher said the group should "raise that question with the new developer, once a new developer is chosen."

The Maryland Department of the Environment will be required to draw a zone of "dewatering influence" around the Lehigh Portland Cement quarry in Union Bridge. The zone marks an area in which a quarry owner must replace wells that go dry or repair sinkhole damage.

But the Lehigh zone "won't be any time soon," said department spokesman Quentin W. Banks.

He said the state agency is unlikely to start work on outlining Lehigh's zone before 1997.

Pub Date: 7/01/96

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