Development toll adds up to lots for Habitat for Humanity

June 11, 2006|By MARY GAIL HARE | MARY GAIL HARE,SUN REPORTER

The Harford Habitat for Humanity has a dedicated staff, eager volunteers and contractors willing to donate, but finding affordable building lots in the rapidly growing county has often stymied the nonprofit group's efforts to provide homeownership to needy families.

After an announcement Friday by Aberdeen Mayor S. Fred Simmons, land may no longer be a hurdle for the organization. City officials will exact a toll on developers who will profit from Aberdeen's expected building boom during the next 15 years, when thousands of military families move to the area as part of the national base realignment.

"For every 20 houses built in Aberdeen, the developer must donate one lot to Habitat," Simmons said. "That should probably be 10 lots a year to Habitat."

The mayor has the City Council's support for the proposal, said Councilman David Yensan.

"I think we can scratch land as a major obstacle," said Joann Blewett, executive director of Harford's Habitat chapter.

Simmons spoke at the dedication of two Habitat homes built in the city last week, calling homebuilders, Bob Ward Cos. and Pulte Homes' Maryland division "friends of Aberdeen."

"Our town should be thanking Habitat for its investment in affordable housing for our residents," he said.

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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