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General Assembly briefs

February 02, 2000

ANNAPOLIS - If the Washington County Commissioners don't start licensing home builders soon, the county may be forced to accept rigid statewide regulations, state lawmakers said Wednesday.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, reminded the commissioners about the harmful local effects of statewide regulations dealing with the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program, lead paint and farm runoff.

Last year, the delegation gave the county the power to enact its own home builder licensing regulations, which would exempt them from a statewide law.

But if the commissioners don't act soon, they could get drawn into statewide legislation being considered this session.

"Put something in place so we can say we did what we asked to do last year," said Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, whose committee will review the statewide rules.

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As lawmakers learned with the emissions inspection program that it's difficult to get a local exemption once a statewide bill has passed, Shank said.

If the statewide regulations are better, Washington County can be added to the statewide program later.

"Hearing that, we'll probably press forward," Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said, as other commissioners nodded their heads in agreement.

The commissioners plan to make a final decision within two weeks.

ANNAPOLIS - The Washington County Commissioners are worried because the community has had little input into the design of the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center.

"We have not been part of the loop" since December, when Gov. Parris Glendening decided to locate the center in downtown Hagerstown, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said.

The commissioners want to make sure the center has enough security and parking so students feel comfortable being downtown at night, said Commissioner John L. Schnebly.

Otherwise, it will be "an immense waste of taxpayers' money," he told members of the local delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

"If it has any chance of working in downtown Hagerstown, and I don't think it has much of a chance, it will have to be what you're saying," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

Glendening has pledged $12.4 million over the next three years for the project in the city-owned Baldwin House complex.

Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, said that shows a strong commitment on the part of Glendening.

"This is his first real test of Smart Growth and revitalization of a city," she said.

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