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Commissioners may fund study

January 07, 1998

Commissioners may fund study

By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Staff Writer

The Washington County Commissioners may commission a $115,000 study that could result in new fees or taxes to pay for the costs of development.

County Planning Director Robert C. Arch said the study would analyze the costs of development, including increased demands on roads, schools and services such as police protection. It also would make recommendations on ways to pay for development, including impact fees and special taxing districts.

Tischler and Associates of Bethesda, Md., was the only firm to bid on the project.

County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook and Commissioner James R. Wade said they supported the idea of the study but first wanted to see examples of work Tischler had done for other counties.

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Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers asked Arch why the study was necessary.

"You are the county planning director. What does this do that wouldn't be your job?"

Arch said Tischler would provide a detailed financial analysis and has more specialized experience in that field than does the county staff.

"This is not one (study) that's going to sit on the shelf," said County Administrator Rodney M. Shoop.

Impact fees, being used in 10 Maryland counties, including Frederick and Carroll counties, require new housing developments to pay for the costs of new roads, schools and services required to serve those developments.

Paul Tischler said impact fees must be related to projects that would specifically benefit new homeowners.

The study also would consider special taxing districts. Property owners in such districts would pay additional property taxes to offset costs of new roads or other facilities in the districts.

Tischler's proposal recommends targeting the Hopewell Road area, which is designated for industrial and commercial growth, for consideration as a special taxing district.

The study would provide information to be used in updating the county's comprehensive plan. It could effect zoning and other issues, Arch said.

The commissioners ultimately must decide how much developers should pay for schools, roads, bridges and sewers needed to serve their developments.

They also will have to consider revenue. County finance officials have said the county's five-year capital projects plan has a $25 million deficit between anticipated revenue and planned projects.

Arch said some of the capital projects could be delayed if growth doesn't spill over from Frederick County.

A $40,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission would help pay for the study.

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