Live Chat with Commissioner Jim Kercheval - Transcript

July 25, 2005

The Herald-Mail will present a live chat with Washington County Commissoner Jim Kercheval starting at 1:00 pm and ending at 2:00 pm today. Questions or comments can be submitted by clicking here before and during the chat.

The text of the live discussion will flow into the bottom of this page during its live hour. You can either click "Refresh" on your browser window or hit "F5" on your keyboard to see new responses. Make sure you scroll down to see the latest answers.

Moderator: Now that you've closed your barbecue restaurant, will you be a full-time commissioner or re-open Kerch's somewhere else?

Kercheval: I've been a fulltime commissioner since elected, which made running the restaurant difficult. In fast food, the owner needs to be there all the time to monitor all the little things, and when you're not, you're net revenue tends to suffer. We currently have not made a final decision about our future. We have all our equipment in storage and have looked at several locations so far. However, we haven't found the right location that will handle a less intensive operation while I continue the commissioner position. My ultimate goal is something that's not open seven days a week. My wife and two little boys have enjoyed having me home more often during the last six months. We hope to have some decision in the next couple of months.


Moderator: Why did it take years to come up with a rural rezoning plan that nearly everyone agrees is flawed?

Kercheval: Whenever you're working with an issue this complex, I doubt it's possible to come to a resolution that everyone will support. It's hard for me to comment on what happened prior to my election as this issue had been worked on for over two years, and I wasn't privy to the details and decisions that affected that process. One area I believe that we can improve upon as we move forward with the urban rezoning is to get more public involvement from the onset. However, that will require the citizens to take a more active role in following that process. In the rural rezoning we had multiple public meetings with very little attendance and most of the public comment came at the tail end of that process, making this issue more difficult. In looking at what some other counties have done, a public task force was put together at the beginning of the comprehensive rezoning process, and I believe that we should work in that direction for the next step as we rezone the urban areas. One other point: During this process, Washington County was in a transitional phase from a slow-growing to a fast-growing county. I think today after we have seen the impact of a couple years of high growth, we all have a better perspective of how our growth is going to continue in the future and what impacts it's going to have.

Moderator: A lot of time has been spent on the 2-plus-2 meetings between yourself, Commissioner Doris Nipps and City Council members Kristin Aleshire and Lewis Metzner. Has anything specific been accomplished?

Kercheval: The major accomplishment has been a much increased level of communication between the two bodies. Through this group we've developed a very close relationship with these two councilmen, and , in turn, have created an environment where we can comment on the issues without causing some of the friction as in the past. I know it's been commented that some sort of written accomplishment would like to have been produced from this group by now, but we were waiting for resolution of several key issues that directly affected any kind of comprehensive agreement. We continue to meet nearly every week working on some tough issues such as APFO, sewer allocation, and I'm sure the hospital issue in the weeks to come. I believe that although we still disagree on different areas, the relationship between the bodies is better than it's been in years. Just some small areas where each side has seen progress that benefited from communication in this form is tax credits in revitalization areas, changes in some of the county ordinances such as the excise tax, etc.

Moderator: As a result of the near-record rise in the value of real estate in Maryland, other counties cut their property taxes to ease the property-tax load on their residents. Why didn't that happen in Washington County?

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