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Commissioners commit to tax break for planned senior center

March 10, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

The Washington County Commissioners on Wednesday made a 15-year commitment to give a tax break of at least $12,800 annually to a planned 64-unit senior housing project .

The tax relief for the joint project of Interfaith Housing of Western Maryland and Silverman, Hirsch and Lloyd of Rockville, Md., is to start at $12,800 and increase by 2 percent annually over the 15-year period.

The multi-year commitment to relieve the project's real property taxes makes the $3.49 million project eligible for $1.3 million in funds from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, said Joseph Kuhna, Washington County Community Development Coordinator.

The Rockville limited partnership commissioned a market study, which found that Washington County has a need for about 100 rental housing units for senior citizens, Mark Silverman said.

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The Washington County Commissioners will review the tax abatement annually, said Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook, who noted that the commissioners usually avoid making multi-year commitments to tax abatements.

Commissioner William J. Wivell said he would prefer the county only make a five year commitment. He did not vote on the motion, though, which translates to a yes vote.

The abatement is being made through a program called PILOT - Payment In Lieu of Taxes - adopted by the Washington County Commissioners in 1993. It is the first time the county has given a tax abatement to a housing project through the program, Snook said.

The project, as yet unnamed, is on Robinwood Drive, adjacent to the $7 million Loyalton of Hagerstown facility being built by Emeritus Assisted Living of Seattle. The two projects are near Robinwood Medical Center.

The newly independent Washington County Housing Authority will receive $22,000 annually to serve as property manager, Director Richard Willson said.

The project will not compete with public housing, which serves residents with a lower income, Kuhna said.

The Interfaith project serves household incomes in the $11,000 to $24,000 range, he said.

This project will serve seniors ages 55 and older, who will pay rents ranging from $188 to $436 a month, he said.

When completed, the three building multi-level facility will have 120 units. Wednesday's request was related only to the initial 64-unit phase.

The tax abatement request came up during Tuesday's meeting but the County Commissioners said more time was needed before a decision could be made.

A special meeting was held Wednesday because the project application to the Department of Housing and Community Development is due Monday.

The developers will return to the county in 90 days at which time the county can further discuss whether the commitment should be for more or less than 15 years, Snook said.

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