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Berkeley commission hears proposed fee hikes for developers

April 05, 2002|BY SARAH MULLIN

martinsburg@herald-mail

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Developers told the Berkeley County Commission on Thursday that they agreed with most of the Berkeley County Planning Commission's fee increases as long as the additional revenue goes toward hiring another engineer for the county.

Three developers at the public hearing voiced their concerns and suggested changes on the fees. About 10 developers attended.

The planning commission's proposed fee increases only affect subdivisions and include:

- A $45 increase on preliminary plat reviews, increasing the total fee to $240.

- A $100 fee for preliminary plat extensions with no charge for the first- and second-year extensions.

- A $100 final plat extension fee.

- A $100 fee for a plan change.

- A $200 increase for a site plan review, increasing the total fee to $500.

- A $100 fee for bond reductions with no charge for the first three requests.

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- A $100 fee for bond extensions with no charge for the first extension.

The fee increases could add an estimated $74,900 in additional revenue to the planning commission's budget.

Todd Alter, president of the Eastern Panhandle Home Builders Association, said the association wants to bring the additional engineer on board, so it is in agreement with the fees.

The association did not agree with the $100 fee for preliminary plat extensions, and there should be two free bond extension requests rather than one, Alter said.

Katy Fidler, a representative for development company Newbraugh-Ryan, echoed Alter's agreement on the fees.

"We do hope that you will not avert the intention of our initiative, and implement these fees only to funnel the collections into the general fund," Fidler said.

Commissioner John Wright said he would not support the increases if the additional revenue were not going toward the hiring of the additional engineer.

Commissioner Robert Burkhart said the fees will not be a money maker for the county.

If approved, the fees will not be implemented until the new fiscal year begins July 1.

Developer Page Burdette of Page Burdette Homes, which is a division of Potomac Housing Developers Inc., said Potomac Housing only supports the $45 increase for preliminary plat review to be used for the additional engineer.

Burdette said if the fees are increased, the increase is passed on to the home buyer.

"We are a county with average people who have average means. If we don't watch out, we will put ourselves out of affordable housing," he said. "We are a young county with young people who have a lot of bills. We have to watch where we hit them in the wallet."

Commission President Howard Strauss said the commission will accept written comments until 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The commission will discuss the issue during its regular Thursday morning commission meeting next week.

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