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Impact fee plan approved again

November 25, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The turbulent saga of implementing impact fees in Jefferson County seemed to come to an end Monday morning, when the county commissioners again approved assessing the fees after changing the date on which they will take effect.

On Nov. 6, the commissioners voted 4-1 to start charging developers impact fees for each new home built. Afterward, the commissioners realized they had put an incorrect passage date in the ordinance.

Instead of listing the passage date as Nov. 6, it was listed as Jan. 7, which is the date when the commissioners had planned to start charging the fees.

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Because of the mix-up, the commissioners voted last week to repeal the ordinance, fix the date and vote on it again. At the special meeting Monday, the commissioners discussed the matter before voting 4-1 in favor of the ordinance, with a passage date of Nov. 24.

Commissioners Greg Corliss, Al Hooper, Rusty Morgan and Jane Tabb voted for the ordinance.

As he has done previously, Commissioner James Knode voted against it.

All of the county commissioners expressed their thoughts on the issue, including Tabb, who is the commission's president. She said she gave the matter thought over the weekend and prepared a statement, which she read during the meeting.

She said the matter brings to mind ideas taught to children, such as "Haste makes waste," and "The end does not always justify the means."

Although Tabb said she approves of impact fees, she said she disagrees with the procedure. However, she said the matter needs to be put to rest so other county problems can be addressed.

Knode said the commission's decision will affect county residents' right to petition against the ordinance. He asked that the commissioners examine the issue without rushing.

Jefferson County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Cassell said residents will have 45 days, beginning Monday, to compile any petitions. That will run parallel with the 60 days the commissioners must wait before they can begin assessing impact fees.

Impact fees, which are used to help improve infrastructure affected by a growing population, will allow for the construction of new schools and improvements to be made at the county's existing schools.

Developers will pay $7,122 per single-family home or mobile home, $5,562 per townhouse or duplex and $4,040 per multi-family dwelling.

Corliss said impact fees are important given the fact that Jefferson County schools are overcrowded by around 800 students. That figure could increase by another 200 students by next year, he said.

Jefferson High School, which was designed to hold 1,200 students, has a student population of around 1,600.

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