Floral arrangement in Honeygo project Levy: Many Perry Hall Farms residents think the flower tax is a sweet idea to keep the community rooted in beauty.

June 13, 1998|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

As homebuyers begin to move into the largest project in northeastern Baltimore County's fledgling Honeygo community, they are dipping into their pocketbooks for an unusual levy.

Call it a flower tax.

"If we have to pay taxes for something, why not for flowers?" said Louise Miller, who moved into her new house at the Perry Hall Farms development in Honeygo two weeks ago.

Jill McWilliams, who lives a few doors down, said, "We're definitely for it. The more flowers and trees the better."

Like many who buy newly built homes in suburban communities, residents of Perry Hall Farms are required to pay homeowners association dues. But in launching the community associations that will govern Perry Hall Farms, developer Edward A. Personette required that part of those dues -- $1.50 a month per household -- go toward planting flowers along sidewalks and roads and in common areas.

"I thought it was kind of a unique idea," said Vincent J. Gardina, a Perry Hall Democrat who for years has pushed for design guidelines that would make Honeygo an upscale, planned community.

"A lot of [developers] will put flowers in when they're selling the development. Then the flowers die, and that's it.

"This is more of a permanent solution to keeping the landscaping maintained, and it will add a lot to the community in the long run."

At Perry Hall Farms, which with 1,100 housing units would be the largest project in Honeygo, an initial section of houses is nearly sold out, and the first wave of residents is moving in.

For a glimpse of what their homeowners' dues will bring, residents can look at the red geraniums planted near the pear trees lining the community's frontage on Forge Road. On the berm rising from the road are more trees surrounded by beds of pink geraniums.

Drawn to flowers

Some homebuyers wanted houses near that bed, said Paul Amirault, vice president of Maryland Landmark New Homes Group, which is building at Perry Hall Farms.

"They liked having a lot that backed up to what is [homeowner association] maintained," he said. "It is very pretty."

Brett Hetrick, sales representative for Ryan Homes, said he's never seen a similar levy for flowers.

But prospective buyers at Perry Hall Farms are generally warm to the idea of chipping in to decorate the neighborhood with flowers, he said. "They ask, 'Why doesn't everybody do that?' "

Not rosy to all

Some aren't sold on the idea -- at least not yet. Donna Miller, a new resident of the neighborhood, said she wants to see what she gets for her money before deciding whether she's in favor of the assessment. "We're not quite sure yet," she said.

A gardener's paradise

After the homes are built, the development will be filled with trees and a variety of flowers, the developer said.

"Think about it for a second: 1,000 people, $1.50 a month," Personette said. "It's going to look like a beautiful flower paradise."

Personette loves flowers. Last fall, he was on his knees planting yellow mums when a prospective buyer visited Perry Hall Farms.

"I asked, 'How long will they stay in bloom?' " recalled the buyer, Pam Reichert. "I figured he was the gardener."

Pub Date: 6/13/98

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