Delegate Adams goes on offensive over fire sprinklers

In an effort to allow each Maryland county to decide if sprinkler systems should be required in new single-family homes — instead of continuing the current state mandate — Delegate Chris Adams has processed pre-filing legislation.

Adams said he wants to “return decision making authority to county governments” with LR1031, the bill he filed before the 2016 Maryland Legislative Session begins in mid-January.

In 2012, Adams said, state officials, under Gov. Martin O’Malley, “took the land-use decision making from the counties” and instituted a “one-size-fits-all law that once again unfairly burdens Eastern Shore families.”

If sprinkler systems are required, they can increase the cost of a home 10 percent, making them unaffordable for some potential buyers, he said.

“That’s assuming you get city water. If you don’t, you have to go through the expensive process of putting in a 200-gallon, 300-gallon, tank, and have a structure for it. They have to build that structure outside the house. These costs are not accounted for when an appraiser comes in. So, a young family has to come up with more money.

“The builders have spoken. They simply are not buying permits in these counties,” the Wicomico County Republican said.

Adams spoke to the Wicomico County Council last week about the matter and said council members want the decision back in their hands.

“They wanted it last year. They wrote a letter asking for opt-out,” the delegate said.

Although he hasn’t yet talked to Gov. Hogan about the matter, Adams is encouraged that Hogan supported repealing the rain tax, which was also a state mandate that affected counties.

 “This is something counties have asked for in my district. This is a true issue for the building community, the realtors that sell homes, the bankers that lend money to the buyer. I’m trying to get local control back to the county level. What I am debating is, we don’t need these kinds of decision to be made in Annapolis,” he said.

Although quickly dousing fires by having sprinkler systems is important, he said, “it’s not for the state to decide.”

Passing a bill to put the decision back in  the hands of counties, Adams said, would “bring a responsible return of critical decision making to the local level, where these decisions are best made.”

“Ultimately it’s up to the consumer,” he said.

As a pre-filed bill, the legislation will receive a committee assignment and bill hearing early in Annapolis once the legislative session begins.

He called the current mandate, “a back door attempt by big city liberals to halt economic growth on the Eastern Shore,” but defended his words as not harsh, but accurate.

“We are a rural area. This is a rural issue. Everybody campaigns on the problems Annapolis creates for rural areas … if this mandate isn’t changed, you would see a lot of townhouse construction, a lot of apartments. I am talking about a home with a front yard, a back yard. It’s living the America dream in home ownership,” Adams said.

“So, yes, I think I’m accurate in making that argument.”

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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