Seven years after another board of Washington County Commissioners backed away from a fight over development impact fees, the fiscal condition of the cash-poor county government is forcing another look at new revenue sources. A $100,000 study of development costs here is timely, in view of the growth likely to spill over South Mountain when those shopping for homes in Frederick County discover they can cut their costs by traveling another 15 minutes up Interstate 70.
The study's timing is right for several reasons, one of them political. With citizens lining up to bash the incumbent board for the water/sewer debt, the county's builders are the least of the commissioners' worries. If we're going out, the commissioners might reason, we might as well do something bold before we go.
The intervening years have also given officials and builders a chance to observe how impact fees have been handled in neighboring counties like Frederick, where they haven't done anything discernible to slow development.