The Harford County Council approved tax breaks Tuesday night for two low- to moderate-income housing developments, Riverwoods in Abingdon and a renovated Windsor Valley in Edgewood.
Council members agreed to let developers of both projects make payments to Harford County in lieu of paying property taxes, which will result in somewhat lower revenue to the county.
The trade-off, according to council members and other county officials, is affordable housing that is needed in the county and, in the case of Windsor Valley, needed improvements that are expected to enhance public safety in a high crime area of the county.
The council praised the Windsor Valley rehabilitation and unanimously approved its PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) agreement on the same night as the public hearing for the project, an unusual move for Council President Billy Boniface.
Boniface and Councilman Joe Woods voted against a PILOT for the Riverwoods project, which is set to put 84 apartments between Abingdon's Walmart and Target, off of Constant Friendship Boulevard.
Councilman Dion Guthrie, who represents the Edgewood area, agreed, calling the developer's plan to invest about $52,000 per unit "very impressive."
"We're sure looking forward to the end product," he said.
County officials, including the Harford County Sheriff's Office, have noted it would improve security.
Col. Edward Hopkins, chief deputy of the Sheriff's Office, told the council the Sheriff's Office has let off-duty deputies do private security for Windsor Valley, the first such arrangement for a development in the county.
He noted Windsor Valley pays for that service and the deputies work after hours.
Wishrock acquired part of the community this summer and is in the process of buying the remainder with the aid of $16.5 million in short-term, tax-exempt state bonds, a Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development spokesperson said last month.
"This isn't the first 40-year PILOT agreement we've entered into," Boniface said. "The county's done several others."
He also told Bryan Shumway, of Wishrock, that he appreciated Shumway's meeting individually with the council members and answering their questions.