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County holds off on licensing

February 01, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

The Washington County Commissioners have not decided if they will follow through on a decision to license home builders locally or wait for state licensing legislation, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Tuesday.

The County Commissioners met Tuesday with the Home Builders Association of Washington County and Snook promised them an answer within two weeks.

The Maryland General Assembly gave the County Commissioners authority last year to license home builders locally. That came at the request of the association and the County Commissioners.

The County Commissioners decided last month to delay action on local regulations until they see the outcome of a statewide bill. That decision upset the association, which asked the County Commissioners to reconsider.

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"This came as a shock to us," Jim Parker, association president, told the County Commissioners. The association thought the County Commissioners supported local licensing so they did not understand why the county made that decision without first talking to them, he said.

A bill intended to license home builders statewide, and which specifically exempts Washington County, was introduced in Annapolis Tuesday. A second bill is being drafted that would allow Washington County to have local licensing.

The association favors a local law, rather than a statewide law, because consumers would get better and faster enforcement, Association Executive Director Debi Turpin said. Problems consumers have with a builder should be addressed in the county where it occurs, Turpin said.

Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger said the County Commissioners hesitated because they weren't sure it made sense to have local licensing if the state is going to do it too.

Washington County Permits and Inspections Director Paul Prodonovich said his department could supervise local licensing but it could end up taking much personnel time to deal with licensing-related problems and decisions. It may require hiring at least one more worker, he said.

Turpin said it shouldn't require much work for the county.

But even if the county is not supposed to act as a consumer advocate under a local licensing law, the county will still probably receive calls from residents asking for help, Planning Director Robert Arch said.

The home builders association first asked for local licensing in 1994, Turpin said.

That board of commissioners decided against pursuing a law, but the current board agreed in 1998. The law was passed in 1999.

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