County backs off on making impact fees ruling

September 09, 2005|by CANDICE BOSLEY

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Commission voted Thursday to let someone else decide whether the developer for a housing community designed solely for residents 55 years old and older must pay school impact fees.

Given that children are prohibited from living in the community named Four Seasons, Greenvest CEO Jim Duszynski said he should not have to pay impact fees for the 800 or so homes planned for the community, which is part of Huntfield.

It's a question that has been lingering for months.

On Thursday morning, the Jefferson County Commission voted unanimously to forward the matter to the county prosecutor's office for review.

Duszynski stressed that he was not asking for help or a favor from the commissioners, nor was he asking any to take a political position on the issue. He merely wanted a clarification of the law, he said.


Developers must pay $7,122 in impact fees for every new single-family home, $5,562 for every town house or duplex and $4,040 for every multifamily dwelling.

The fees are used to help build new schools that are needed as the county's population increases.

Covenants and restrictions at Four Seasons prohibit children and adults younger than 55 from living there. Attempting to quell concerns that the restrictions could one day be lifted, or an exemption granted, Duszynski made a promise.

He said if just one child moves into one Four Seasons home, Greenvest will pay impact fees for all 800 houses.

"I'm interested in making steps forward today," he said.

The commissioners asked him to put that in writing and also submit a sample copy of a sales contract that will be used for houses in Four Seasons.

Commissioner Jim Surkamp said if impact fees are not required for houses in Four Seasons, other similar requests might be made.

Georgiana Pardo, an attorney representing Greenvest, told the commissioners that the law differentiates between houses that currently do not happen to have children present, and communities with restrictions that prevent children from living there. The latter restrictions have been upheld by judges again and again, she said.

At one point, when the commissioners seemed hesitant to take any action, Duszynski said the matter of the county charging any impact fees for houses in Huntfield could end up in court.

He said he does not want to file a lawsuit, but said the issue of impact fees for Four Seasons has been brought up three times, with no answer ever given.

Once finished, Huntfield will consist of more than 3,000 houses, with Four Seasons making up about one-fourth of the development.

The development is in Charles Town's city limits.

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