Bel Air commissioners approve fee increases Monday

Fees for zoning and sewer system development and to use the Bel Air Reckord Armory and its facilities will be going up in the Town of Bel Air, effective July 1.

The Bel Air commissioners voted, 4-0, at their town meeting Monday evening in favor of those resolutions as well as one to establish a $200 civil fine for illegally discharging into the town's sewer system. Commissioner Edward Hopkins was absent Monday.

Director of Administration Michael Krantz said during the meeting that some zoning and board of appeals fees were "presently insignificant to cover the cost of research, documentation, report preparation" while other fees have to be increased to cover the town's processing costs.

Increases of $50 were approved for the zoning interpretation fee, from $150 to $200 plus advertising costs; and the fee to apply for non-conforming use expansion, from $150 to $200, plus advertising costs.

A $100 increase, from $50 to $150, is set for the fee to apply for a minor variance or special exception.

The largest increase is $150 – from $50 to $200 – for the comprehensive zoning-rezoning application fee.

Krantz also described $5 increases for fence permit applications, from $20 to $25, plus 4 cents per foot over 250 feet, and for shed permit applications, from $20 to $25 for structures 120 square feet and less; the fee will increase from $30 to $35 for structures between 120 and 200 square feet.

The resolution also adds e-checks to the non-sufficient funds fee of $25 per check.

All the sewer fees are being amended to state that they are "collected by the Town of Bel Air on behalf of Harford County."

Krantz said the sewer connection charges have "always" been collected for the county by the town.

"We're simply stating that fact in the fee schedule itself," he explained.

In addition, the county system development fee will be set at $6,476.60 per 30 fixture units, effective July 1, reflecting a 6 percent annual increase.

A public hearing followed Krantz' introduction, but no one from the public offered a comment.

During the commissioners' comments period, Mayor Robert Reier asked Krantz about the $150 increase in the rezoning request fee.

Krantz deferred to Planning Director Kevin Small.

A lot of research was involved and the town calculated that, at a minimum, the simplest request would take about four hours of a planner's time and about two hours of an administrative assistant's time, Small explained.

Small said town officials estimated that time is worth about $200.

Armory fee increases approved

Krantz said fees to use the town-owned and operated Bel Air Reckord Armory were last set in 2007. Increases are needed to cover operating expenses, and the fee schedule needs to be updated to better align it with its use.

"The Armory's fees are well below market standards and have not been adjusted or increased since 2007," Krantz explained.

Although the fees will be going up across the board, he did say the cost to lease the armory will still be at or below the market rates for similar facilities and a 10 percent discount will continue to be given to individuals or businesses from within the town's "corporate limits."

Among the armory fee increases is $50 in the daily rate, from $250 to $300 for Monday through Thursday events by government or nonprofits. The fee includes janitorial services, an on-site manager and utilities.

The fee for Friday to Sunday government or nonprofit events will increase $100, from $400 to $500 per day, also including janitorial service, on-site manager and utilities.

The daily and weekend fees cover eight hours; any additional hour will cost $75, with events limited to between 8 a.m. and midnight.

The Monday-to-Thursday fee for use by individuals or businesses will increase $100, from $500 to $600 per day, with janitorial services, on-site manager and utilities included.

The Friday-to-Sunday fee for use by individuals or businesses also will increase $100, from $700 to $800 per day, with janitorial services, on-site manager and utilities included.

No one from the public commented during the hearing on Armory fees.

Reier echoed Krantz' statement that the Armory fees are still competitive with those charged to use similar facilities in the area.

"People are still getting a pretty good deal, in the final analysis," he said.

Illegal discharge fine

A $200 fine is being set as a municipal infraction for any illegal discharges found making their way into the sewer system.

Public Works Director Randy Robertson explained on the night the resolution was introduced a property owner found in violation would have 10 days to correct the problem before they would be fined.

He said illegal discharges could involve somebody connecting a downspout to a sewer line or similar connections that are also considered illegal under state and federal laws government storm water and municipal sewer system management.

Krantz said during the meeting the new fine is related to a new chapter in the town code, Chapter 407, or "Storm Sewer Illicit Discharge and Connection."

No one from the public or the town board commented on the new discharge fine.

Aegis staff member Allan Vought contributed to this story.

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