Culver proposes repeal on developer impact fees

Saying he wants to make it more affordable to build new homes in Wicomico County, County Executive Bob Culver announced he will ask the County Council to permanently repeal impact fees.

The move would further stimulate the local economy with new housing construction, he said.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Culver, who, since he was elected, has proposed waiving the fees for new home construction. The County Council agreed to place a moratorium on fees through 2016.

Culver’s repeal idea could have traction, as the council’s leader echoed the County Executive’s concern.

Council President John Cannon said he hasn’t yet talked to Culver, but said he also opposes impact fees.

“They cause restriction for development and growth and you’re sort of punishing first-time home buyers. It’s supposed to be fair to impose the impact fees but if someone buys a home that was previously occupied, they could be moving to Wicomico and putting just as many children into the school system and yet they aren’t being charged. It seems like an inequity,” Cannon said.

Impact fees are paid by contractors and benefit the school system.

Cannon said if impact fees were repealed, an upswing in the economy would make up for income lost.

“It wouldn’t hurt our budget because the economy is recovering at this stage,” Cannon said.

Culver called for “building on this momentum from the state and sending a strong message to home buyers that Wicomico County welcomes you.’

“We want to make it more affordable, not less,” Culver said.

He was referring to Gov. Hogan repealing a septic regulation that, if required, would have added thousands of dollars to the cost of each new home.

In 2012, the state mandated Best Available Technology septic systems be installed on new construction, or on any replacement septic system. But last week Hogan announced his administration will lift that requirement everywhere, except in environmentally sensitive critical areas.

Critics of the BAT requirement have argued newer systems add an additional $11,000 to $14,000 to the cost of a new home. Yet, they have not been proven to benefit the environment.

“The onerous septic system rules put in place by the previous administration have had a negative effect on Wicomico County,” Culver said.

“We are fortunate to have a governor who listens to the people of Maryland, and understands how government can sometimes stand in the way of an economic recovery,” he said.

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