The ongoing debate over the responsibilities of developers doing business in Frederick County continued Tuesday as the Frederick County Council considered a bill to raise school construction fees.

The optional fee, which was available to developers between July 2011 and 2016, allowed builders to move forward with their projects even if they did not have adequate school capacity in the area. The arrangement differs from an impact fee, which is imposed on developments regardless of available school capacity.

About a dozen developments have outstanding agreements to pay school construction fees. The fees differ by type of housing that fails to meet school adequacy as well as the level of the affected school.

For example, the fee for a detached house that doesn’t meet requirements would be $3,977 at the elementary level, $1,752 at the middle school level and $3,721 at the high school level. A proposal from County Executive Jan Gardner would raise the fees by around 56 to 72 percent across those categories. Using the single-family house example, the measure would raise the fee to $6,924, $2,745 and $5,803, respectively.

If approved, the increase would be the first since 2014. Proposals to raise the fee in 2015 and 2016 did not get the support of the council.

Speakers with ties to the housing and development industries naturally spoke out against the proposed increase.

Land-use attorney Noel Manalo urged the council to “take a hard look at the justification” for the amount of the increase.

The increase, according to Assistant Budget Director Kelly Weaver and Education Liaison Janice Spiegel, was calculated to reflect the rise in the state’s school construction index, a statewide average of how much school construction costs have risen over time.

Other speakers against the proposal told the council that raising the fee would adversely affect construction and related industries, hurting the livelihoods of residents employed in those fields.

Terry Kernan, a loan officer from Presidential Bank Mortgage, said the proposal worried him because it would affect growth by creating a higher demand for resales instead of new construction. He added that it would increase housing prices.

“We’re not adding a value to these houses, we’re adding a fee,” he said.

Poppy Saville, an Ijamsville resident in favor of the bill, said that people would be willing to pay more for houses if their local school didn’t have to use portable classrooms.

Hebba Hassanein, also of Ijamsville, said she believed the idea behind the fee was to make sure that school construction kept pace with development.

“If you’re not collecting the right fee, you’re not keeping pace,” she said.

The League of Women Voters echoed a similar sentiment. Shirley McDonald said that the group believed the county wouldn’t be able to meet the demands of new residents without increasing the amount it collects from the dozen developments.

The council will mull over the testimony and consider a vote on the fee change at a later date.

Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiLoos.

(31) comments

matts853

Chemlick's comments were so predictable. He paid quick lip service to his imaginary constituents that he pretends to care about - the ones like me that want - excuse me, need good schools and roads - then went straight to defending the developers and builders.

You know, he really is a devious little jerk.

Get out and vote for Steve. He's an all around superior candidate, not to mention great guy.

Matt Seubert.

hayduke2

Nailed it Matt...[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

matts853

This is shaping up just like FRO. The building industry is demonstrating yet again their pervasive attitude that legislation should be all about them. So what happens when they get their way? The environment and our kids suffer just so they can save a few $million on a highly lucrative project.

Bud caved on FRO. Let's see if he's willing to play fast and loose with the kids like he did with the trees.

What's happening is really disgraceful.

Matt Seubert

stevemckay

Tom Hyde you keep posting about the Impact Fee study but this is about the mitigation fee, which had a different purpose and calculation. I understand that you’re concerned about too high fees making your product less marketable but you must understand that we’re concerned about school overcrowding. Here’s my suggestion to address both concerns: eliminate the mitigation fee option from the DRRAs and retest under the APFO and stop building into overcrowded school districts. You’ll have less fees and we’ll have fewer portables.

hayduke2

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

des21

I hope everyone emailed the council yesterday. I did and the Chief of Staff got back to me. Chmelik signs are proliferating across District 2. While Steve would win in a walk if the poll were held here, we are a minute slice of Frederick county and/or District 2. The developers will not let Steve win the primary without a fight. Please, if you are a registered Republican, vote for Steve on June 26th. Preserve our quality of life.

stevemckay

Thanks des!

KarlBickel

[thumbup]

Tigerzord

[thumbup][thumbup]

hayduke2

[thumbup][thumbup]

sofanna

FrederickFan
You probably noticed I quoted one of your paragraphs. Thank you!!!

sofanna

As usual, Delauter, Shreve, and Chmelik are betraying the taxpayers and protecting their campaign contributors, the residential developers, by claiming "straight talk" or "acting like a taxpayer." In reality they are stabbing us in the back on issues just like this, everyday.

I TOTALLY AGREE! They want to be in the County government so they can continue to do the "Blaine Plan". They do not care about the residents.

KarlBickel

[thumbup]

Tigerzord

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vthyde

https://www.frederickcountymd.gov/DocumentCenter/View/302741/0213---2017-Impact-Fee-Study

DickD

Not adding value? Many select homes with the best schools and if you look on real estate web sites you will see how they use that. And if you did not have impact fees to reflect the true cost, the rest of us will have to pay higher taxes later. One way or the other, the costs are there and must be paid.

FrederickFan

It's an extremely simple issue - Who should be paying the costs associated with residential development, Frederick County taxpayers, or the developers who profit from these developments?

As usual, County Executive Gardner is defending Frederick County taxpayers. She has put forth a reasonable proposal to allow the fees to keep pace with rising costs.

As usual, Delauter, Shreve, and Chmelik are betraying the taxpayers and protecting their campaign contributors, the residential developers, by claiming "straight talk" or "acting like a taxpayer." In reality they are stabbing us in the back on issues just like this, everyday.

And as usual, the developers are saying "lets compromise," which really means, "I don't want to pay for the increasing costs of building schools. I'd rather take home even bigger profits on the backs of Frederick County Taxpayers. How about a compromise where the taxpayers pay 99% of the increased costs, and I'll pay 1%?"

Lets see which way Bud Otis votes. Will he vote to betray the taxpayers by supporting lower, inadequate fee increases, saying "We compromised, aren't we great?" Or will he vote to support County Executive Gardner's reasonable proposal 100%, to defend the taxpayer? She didn't propose to increase the fees more than the rising costs, so any "compromise" to lower fees is sticking it to the taxpayers.

Remember, if residential developers win, you lose. Stay tuned.

hayduke2

FF- [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

KarlBickel

[thumbup]

PositiveQuantum

👍💪

jthompson

The developers' claim that an increase in the school mitigation fee means a corresponding automatic increase in the price of new homes does not stand up to logic and scrutiny. A prospective purchaser of a good or service asks how much the seller will take for it, not how much it cost to make the good or service available for sale. If sellers of goods and services had the ability to force buyers to absorb increases in the sellers' costs, we wouldn't need the bankruptcy laws.

stevemckay

[thumbup]

KarlBickel

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elymus43

The fees need to raised HIGHER yet. What is needed ASAP is complete MORATORIUM on all new home building.................... Thanks to all of the county council that voted for the increased fees.

FrederickFan

They haven't voted yet.

And if they vote for a "compromise," and not the full increase requested by County Executive Gardner, taxpayers will fall further behind.

sofanna

Totally agree on the MORATORIUM! Our schools are already overcrowded due to developers being let off the hook. The 99%/1% is a joke!!! Who do they think they are kidding? I hope Jan Gardner does the RIGHT thing for the residents of Frederick County!

stevemckay

It’s a very simple issue - either raise fees to reflect current school construction costs or stop building into overcrowded school districts

vthyde

https://www.frederickcountymd.gov/DocumentCenter/View/301603/2017---Council-Workshop-12122017---2017-Impact-Fee-Study

DickD

Looking forward to you being on the Council, Steve.[thumbup]

stevemckay

Thank you!

KarlBickel

[thumbup]

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