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Local Powers explored further

March 17, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Commissioners continued an effort Thursday to determine what is needed to allow Jefferson County to enjoy new authority under the Local Powers Act.

The Local Powers Act gives counties the ability to charge impact fees to home builders, although some commissioners say there is no guarantee they will implement the fees.

There are a number of requirements counties must follow before impact fees can be implemented, including passage of zoning laws, building codes, a comprehensive plan and a capital improvement plan.

Jefferson County has zoning and a comprehensive plan.

Two weeks ago, Commissioner Al Hooper said he would talk to home builders in the area about what kind of building codes they would like to see used in the county.

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On Thursday, Commissioner James K. Ruland volunteered to start work on a capital improvements plan for the county. A capital improvements plan would identify which projects the county would fund with money generated from impact fees.

The projects could range from water and sewer treatment plants to schools and parks, the commissioners said.

Ruland said he will be open to any input about how a capital improvements plan should be crafted.

"Anyone inside or outside government would be welcomed to stick their nose in this thing," Ruland said.

Hooper said he asked Terry Marcus of the Eastern Panhandle Home Builders Association if the home builders group could organize a committee of members to give input on building codes.

Hooper said he has not heard back from the group.

Hooper said most licensed home builders support building codes because it puts all contractors on a "level playing field" and protects them from builders with lower standards who can undercut their prices.

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