Bigger fee targeting builders approved

Increase set to take effect by year's end

$11 million OK'd for county projects

Carroll County

November 05, 2003|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

The Carroll commissioners continued their efforts to push a greater share of growth costs onto developers by approving a series of fee increases yesterday for various stages of the county's development review process.

The commissioners' vote wiped away their predecessors' efforts to decrease the same processing fees, which developers pay when they submit plans for commercial or residential projects.

In other action yesterday, the commissioners approved bond issues worth about $11 million to pay for various county projects.

Under the new fee structure, scheduled to take effect by the end of the year, a developer would pay a base fee of $1,600 and $100 per lot when submitting concept and preliminary plans for residential subdivisions. Under the current structure, the developer pays a base fee of $1,120 and $70 per lot when submitting the plans.

The fee structure passed yesterday is identical to that which existed before July 2000, when the previous commissioners began scaling back development costs.

Though the fee increases won't cost most developers more than a few thousand dollars per project, the cumulative increase could put hundreds of thousands more in county coffers, said Planning Director Steve Horn.

Horn called the new fee structure "more realistic." He also said a continuing review of the county's growth laws may lead to more fee increases next year.

"We're looking at a much more complex growth process, so there may be some additional administrative costs we'll want to consider," he said.

The commissioners said the fee increases are a small part of their overall plans to make developers and home buyers pay for the increased infrastructure costs created by growth. This year, they passed increases to impact fees on new development and to recordation taxes on property transfers. They hope to win permission from the state legislature to raise transfer taxes, though members of the county's delegation to Annapolis are resisting that push.

"This is just another process where development pays for development instead of the taxpayer paying for it," Commissioner Perry L. Jones Jr. said of the fees.

Yesterday's vote will affect commercial projects as well as residential subdivisions. Under the new structure, a developer would pay a base cost of $2,000 and $100 an acre when submitting a commercial plan. Under the current structure, the same developer would pay a $1,400 base cost and $70 an acre.

The bond issue approved yesterday covers everything from road improvements to loans made to several volunteer fire companies. It includes $2 million for planning and construction on the new Parr's Ridge Elementary School in Mount Airy, $525,000 for improvements to hangars at the county airport and $460,200 for renovations to the Courthouse Annex building in Westminster.

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