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Planners voice worries over APFO

June 30, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

Members of the Hagerstown Planning Commission on Wednesday expressed concerns with the proposed county excise tax and related adequate public facilities ordinance (APFO) that could go into effect as early as July 12.

Their comments will be forwarded to the Hagerstown City Council, which is scheduled to take action on the measures in late July.

The county's building excise tax would collect between $13,000 and $31,000 on each new home, depending on the type of home and how many are being built at one time in a development.


The City of Hagerstown can get a portion of the excise tax if it adopts an APFO similar to the county's, which ties new home building to the amount of space nearby schools have for new students.

During the Planning Commission's Wednesday meeting, Planning Commission Chairman Douglas Wright said it appears that the APFO ordinance the city is considering would hand over development control to the Washington County Board of Education.

"We don't want to let the board of education become the planning commission for the county," Wright said. "I think we have to respect their information, but the determination (on new development) should be ours."

Planning Commission member Fred Nugent said the new rules might cripple development.

"It sounds to me like we're not going to have any development for a while," Nugent said.

City Planning Director Kathleen Maher, who spoke before the commission, said there is another ripple that could affect the proposed rules.

"We don't have additional staff to go along with this APFO," Maher said of the City Planning Department. "We're full right now - without an APFO and without a SCAP."

The city's Sewer Capacity Allocation Program was developed after repeated failures at the city's sewage treatment plant. The program will take effect soon after the Maryland Department of the Environment gives the final OK.

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