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Consultant recommends assessment district

February 09, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

Washington County should consider establishing a special assessment district to pay for a portion of road capital costs in Hopewell Valley, a consultant hired by the Washington County Commissioners says.

The county has estimated the cost of building road extensions, bridges and related work in the 1800-acre Hopewell Valley at about $18 million, Washington County Public Works Director Gary Rohrer said.

The owners of all properties in Hopewell Valley benefiting from improvements would be assessed a fee of an undetermined amount if the commissioners opted to approve the proposal, Washington County Planning Director Robert Arch said.

Consultant Tischler and Associates, Inc. of Bethesda, Md., will explain the proposal and its reasoning during a presentation at today's meeting of the Washington County Commissioners.

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The county hired Tischler to explore the costs of growth to the county and to recommend new fees or taxes to help offset those costs. The consultant said the county should consider separate impact fees to pay for school construction, public works equipment and public safety needs.

While the impact fees would be charged on new developments, an assessment district would charge a fee to current occupants as well as future property owners since all would potentially benefit from the improvements.

Hopewell Valley is bounded by Md. 144 to the north, Hopewell to the east, Interstate 70 to the south and Md. 63 to the west.

Fees would help pay for planned road projects including an extension of Halfway Boulevard from its intersection with Hopewell Road to Md. 63.

The commissioners are counting on development of Hopewell Valley to provide jobs, expand the tax base and make use of the Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Hopewell includes Newgate Industrial Park, Crossroad Corporate Center and Hunters Green Business Park.

The consultants say the county should pay some of the costs since nearby residents also will benefit from better roads, the report says.

A fee also should be considered for parcels with direct access and road frontage on Hopewell Road, the consultants say. A discounted rate should be charged for companies without road frontage, the report says.

The County Commissioners have not read the report yet and had no comment on it.

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