Alliance to build affordable housing units in Cascade

October 04, 2006|by TARA REILLY

CASCADE - Interfaith Housing Alliance plans to build 10 affordable housing units in Cascade between Cascade Road and Md. 550.

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday voted 4-1 to allow the single-family homes to be phased in at five units per year.

The project is planned for 23.68 acres.

Four of the commissioners agreed to the phase-in to deal with any potential capacity issues at Smithsburg High School.

The county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) allows developers to submit mitigation plans to resolve school capacity problems.

Planning Director Michael Thompson said the phase-in plan for the Cascade homes was Interfaith's mitigation plan.

The county will issue five building permits this calendar year and five more at the start of the next calendar year, Thompson said.

Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell was the only commissioner to vote against the phase-in. He said all developers should be treated the same under county building regulations.


Most developers who build in areas where schools are overcapacity are required to pay for renovations or new schools.

The phase-in could open a "can of worms" because other developers could try to get around growth regulations by asking for five units a year for a development, Wivell said.

"If we approve this today, then we also have to approve other builders who build just five lots per year," Wivell said.

The other commissioners said Interfaith's project would make homeownership affordable for some county residents.

"I believe that we need to try to help the low-income people achieve the American dream ..." Commissioner John C. Munson said.

Commissioner James F. Kercheval said he supported the phase-in because Interfaith was an established affordable housing nonprofit organization, Cascade Elementary School was well below capacity and that capacity issues at Smithsburg High School likely would be addressed through the redistricting of school attendance areas.

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