HAGERSTOWN — Demolitions, renovations and expansions of existing buildings will qualify for county perks under a broadened “pad-ready” stimulus program approved Tuesday by the Washington County Board of Commissioners.
The program was originally designed to encourage builders to bring undeveloped land to a ready-to-build state, but the commissioners decided that the same benefits should apply to sites with existing buildings in need of redevelopment.
They also agreed that the program should run for three years, instead of the two previously suggested. It took effect Tuesday.
The program applies only to sites with Commercial, Industrial or Industrial-Flex zoning and excludes projects expected to involve retail use.
Qualifying projects receive priority plan review by the Washington County Development Advisory Committee, deferment of county site-plan application and review fees, and a real-estate tax credit once a building is constructed. That tax credit is to be 0.4 of a percent of the construction cost of the new improvement and apply for three years against the increase of appraised value of the property.
The program was suggested by Economic Development Commission Director Timothy R. Troxell to increase the availability of desirable building sites, thereby helping the county attract jobs and investment.
The commissioners voted unanimously Aug. 30 in favor of the program, but decided Oct. 4 to send it back to the EDC for review before voting on the formal resolution establishing it. EDC board members recommended expanding the program to include existing buildings and increasing it from two years to three.
The commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the revised program. Commissioner Jeffrey A. Cline voted against the motion because of a disagreement about how to define “pad-ready.”