A state delegate who raised her hand to join a Frederick County growth task force was passed over for appointment after a fellow legislator questioned how “fair and open” she would be on the panel.
Delegate Kathy Afzali, R-District 4A, argued she would bring a much-needed perspective to the growth group because her constituents in the eastern areas of the county are among those most affected by local growth issues. In a Nov. 4 letter, she asked Sen. David Brinkley, R-District 4, to put her on the county-led task force.
In response, Brinkley challenged Afzali’s impartiality on the question of creating a transfer tax to fund infrastructure improvements. In a Monday phone interview, he attributed Afzali’s interest in the work group to a desire for publicity.
“Afzali is about Afzali and not a solution to the problem,” Brinkley said.
Despite Afzali’s request for the task force assignment, Brinkley offered the opening to Sen. Ron Young, D-District 3, and Delegate Patrick Hogan, R-District 3A, before finally naming Delegate Galen Clagett to the work group.
Afzali said her goal is to represent district residents who have concerns about development in the county. Controversial development projects such as the Monrovia Town Center heavily affect her constituents, she noted. Clagett, D-District 3A, represents the city of Frederick, where building does not generate as much opposition, she said.
“I’m the one who’s fielding the calls from irate citizens who are going to have the traffic jams and the noise and the safety issues from this kind of growth,” she said.
The work group created by county commissioners Oct. 31 will discuss ways to make sure local infrastructure keeps pace with development.
Commissioners had talked about replacing county impact fees on new development with a transfer tax levied when homes are sold. The shift would distribute the costs of schools and libraries more equitably across all homeowners rather than just placing them on developers and the home’s first buyers, Commissioners President Blaine Young has argued.
Commissioners considered asking the Maryland General Assembly for permission to make the change. However, when the county’s group of state lawmakers offered a tepid response to the proposal, commissioners opted to put together a work group instead. Afzali was one of the legislators who voiced opposition to establishing a transfer tax, a fact Brinkley highlighted when responding to her request for a seat on the task force.
“A transfer tax may, or may not, be a potential tool,” Brinkley wrote. “You have stated unequivocally you are opposed to this; in light of this, can you truly be ‘fair and open’?”
But Afzali said everyone will bring an opinion to the table when the task force meets.
“Delegate Clagett is very much pro-development and very buddy-buddy with the developers,” she said.
With development interests already represented on the board, she said she would add a different perspective. Having a variety of outlooks on the task force is important if they are going to hammer out solutions, she argued. Otherwise, the group’s discussions will be more for show than for a substantial debate, she said.
The task force will also include representatives of the Frederick County Association of Realtors, Frederick County Building Industry Association, Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, a municipality, and the senior, education and library communities.
Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.