The Baltimore County Council on Tuesday approved new legislation that eliminates deductions from fees paid by developers set aside to build and maintain small parks and other open space.
County law requires developers to set aside 1,000 square feet of open space per dwelling unit when they build new homes. When that’s not possible, developers can pay “open-space waiver fees” instead. But the law also reduced fees if residential amenities, such as rooftop pools, are included.
The legislation to eliminate fee deductions was sponsored by Republican Councilmen David Marks of Perry Hall, Wade Kach of Cockeysville and Todd Crandell of Dundalk, and Democratic Council Chairman Tom Quirk of Oella and Councilwoman Cathy Bevins of Middle River. Marks made a last-minute amendment to the bill to ensure the new law wouldn’t apply to housing projects in the works prior to the bill’s passage into law.
The amendment would exempt projects that had reached certain steps in the county’s approval process and any projects assigned to a developer before the bill’s passage. Quirk and Kach voted against the amendment after Kach expressed discomfort with the last-minute amendment.
The Maryland Building Industry Association says eliminating open space fee exemptions would increase project costs. Another group, NeighborSpace of Baltimore County, says eliminating the exemptions will secure more money for public parks and trails. The new law will take effect on Sept. 16.
Another law passed Tuesday will exempt the development of senior living housing from “impact fees.” Marks this year introduced legislation for the fees, which help cover the public costs of development. The new law passed Tuesday was introduced by Jones and Bevins, and it will also take effect Sept. 16.
The council also passed a resolution supporting the creation of a regional authority to handle the area’s water and sewer needs. The idea would require action by the state’s General Assembly, but the council is urging the county administration — along with city, state, and other officials — to investigate the idea. The council also passed a resolution to extend the lifespan for proposed bills and resolutions to give lawmakers and residents more time to review potential changes — and delay votes if necessary.