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Swope files for commissioner

July 14, 1998|By MATTHEW BIENIEK

Washington County Commissioner candidate Joseph Swope says he favors revising county zoning laws and adopting impact fees.

"Anyone who says impact fees will stop growth needs to look at the growth in Frederick County," he said.

Impact fees could provide funding for roads, water, and sewer, all of which are needed if growth is to continue, he said.

Frederick County's impact fees were raised on July 1 of this year, according to Mike Thompson, zoning administrator for the county.

The fee for a single-family home is $3,000. Rental apartments run from $515 to $775 per unit. All impact fees in Frederick County are used for schools, said Thompson. No impact fees are charged to commercial or industrial developers.

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In Washington County, the costs of those same services are on the backs of senior citizens and young families, Swope said.

Zoning should protect farmland and open spaces, and areas zoned agricultural shouldn't be available for business uses, he said. Swope said there's a lot of space available for business in already developed areas.

"Look around, and you'll see strip malls and other unoccupied business spaces throughout the county," he said.

Swope said he'd try to strike a balance between economic growth and preservation of both historical and natural places to maintain the unique character of Washington County.

"We don't want to become a cookie-cutter community and look like everybody else," he said.

Controlling commercial and residential sprawl is key to Swope's goal of preserving farmland, recreational and historical areas, and the water supply, he said.

Swope, who lives at 27 Chestnut Ave., Boonsboro, said preserving a good, clean environment is not counterproductive to a good, stable, viable economy.

He said diversity is needed to provide economic stability.

Instead of relying on three or four major businesses, including retail, service, and warehousing, the county needs to attract manufacturing, high-tech, and government services. It can only do that by finding a way to fund water, sewer, and roads, he said.

The 1968 North Hagerstown High graduate works as a security alarm operator with Protection I, formerly Dynamark. He's held his current job for 14 years.

Swope, 48, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1969-75. He is a member of the Boonsboro American Legion.

The self-described citizen activist said that unlike some candidates who leave the scene a month after the elections, he'll still be around even if he's not elected. Swope frequently testifies or comments at meetings of the County Commissioners and planning commission.

Occasionally he testifies in his capacity as conservation chairman for the Sierra Club Catoctin group, which has members in Washington, Frederick, and Carroll counties.

There are 29 candidates vying for the five Washington County Commissioner seats, including 14 Democrats, 14 Republicans and one Independent. The top five Democrats and Republicans in the Sept. 15 primary election and the Independent candidate will go on to the general election on Nov. 3.

The salary for commissioners is $20,000 a year.

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