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Council introduces bill that would repeal Harford's 'rain tax'

The Harford County Council introduced Harford County Executive David Craig's bill Tuesday night to repeal the state's storm water remediation fee, known as the "rain tax," in Harford County.

Craig announced last month he wants to repeal the state bill and has regularly challenged the state to prove the fee would actually improve the Chesapeake Bay, as well as accused the government of needing to clean up its own house, environmentally speaking.

The bill would return any fees of $50 or less to taxpayers and would provide that no storm water remediation fees will be charged or collected in Harford County.

A public hearing on the bill is set for 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 5.

As has been typical, the council did not discuss the bill on the night of its introduction.

Many council members, most notably Dion Guthrie and Joe Woods, have been outspoken in opposition of the "rain tax."

The bill would also refund any payments made within 30 days of its passage. The county began collecting the annual fee of $12.50 per home and 75 cents per 500 per square foot for business and commercial property effective July 1.

New bills

The council also introduced bills for zoning code revisions that would change the height measurement of continuing care retirement homes and adjust the natural resources district.

The revisions would change the height of retirement communities from a maximum of 50 feet to four stories in the least-dense zoning districts, and from 60 feet to five stories in more dense zoning areas.

The NRD bill would lower the amount of residential area that has to be within the district for certain conditions to apply. Under the bill, if more than 25 percent of a residentially-zoned parcel is in the NRD or is included as a habitat protection area, the housing types and design requirements of the next most-dense residential district shall apply.

The current requirement is 35 percent.

Yet another zoning revision would allow a preliminary plan approval to be valid for three years instead of two, a deadline that has been a shifting target in recent years, as developers and landowners have pushed for longer periods.

Also, the county planning director would be allowed to grant a one-year extension of the preliminary plan instead of the current two years.

Another new bill would appropriate $8.6 million in various funds for other post-employment benefits (OPEB) for fiscal year 2014.

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