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County Commission president wants to meet over impact fees

March 12, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County Commission President Al Hooper said Thursday he would like to meet with the mayors of Charles Town and Ranson, W.Va., as part of "one more attempt" to work out differences between the county and the two cities over school impact fees.

"We should hear where they are coming from," Hooper told fellow commissioners.

Last week, the commissioners decided to take legal action after learning no impact fees have been collected for new homes in Charles Town and Ranson since county officials began collecting the fees Jan. 26.

The move touched off a heated response from Ranson Mayor David Hamill, who said he believes the county does not have the authority to charge school impact fees.

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Hamill said he did not care what the commission does, adding, "If they want to sue us, let them sue us."

Hamill said Thursday he now has second thoughts about what he said, and is encouraged by Hooper's attempt to work things out.

"I applaud the commission. All we want to do is resolve the issue," Hamill said.

Hilton also was encouraged by Hooper's move.

"This is good. I think it's always preferable to work things out informally rather than through the courts," Charles Town Mayor Randy Hilton said Thursday in a phone interview.

The commissioners supported Hooper.

"Any communication, in my mind, is good," said Commissioner Greg Corliss.

"I just hope you can accomplish something," said Commissioner Rusty Morgan.

Hooper said after the meeting he would set up a time to meet with Hamill and Hilton.

Under the law the commissioners passed that implemented impact fees, cities are forbidden to issue a building permit for a home unless an impact fee has been paid to the county, county officials said.

In Charles Town, building permits have been approved for nine single-family homes and nine townhouses or duplexes, county officials said. The new homes should have resulted in $114,156 in impact fees being collected, officials said.

In Ranson, permits have been issued for five single-family homes and two town homes, officials said. Those new homes should have resulted in $46,734 in impact fees being collected.

At the time, Hamill said he did not think the county had the authority to collect impact fees and he was still upset over the way the county handled distribution of slot machine money from Charles Town Races & Slots.

Hilton said he did not realize impact fees were not being forwarded to the county from Charles Town.

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