- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
As the Southern Community Center room filled, there was chatter among Chesapeake Ranch Estates residents about where the Special Tax District money has already gone and how people could be expected to pay an increased amount during Tuesday night’s public hearing of the fourth STD petition by the Property Owners Association of Chesapeake Ranch Estates.
The purpose of the hearing was to allow the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners to hear public testimony concerning the petition.
The current STD, which began five years ago as the third STD to be placed on CRE, costs CRE residents $250 per lot each year. POACRE is petitioning for a fourth STD, which will cost residents $260 per lot each year.
As it stands, the current STD is used for community roads and streets, including maintenance and stormwater management and other communitywide amenities.
Of the proposed fees, $250 per lot would continue to fund the maintenance, repair and improvement of roads, while the additional $10 will be used to improve common area amenities for the community’s youth, such as a skate park and additional playgrounds.
At the public hearing, 43 residents spoke to the commissioners. Of the 43 speakers, 37 were opposed to the proposed STD.
Resident George Hanson said the STD is the equivalent of a poll tax on CRE residents.---- Many of the speakers voiced the same concerns: they had not seen progress on the roads in the community, the lack of communication from the POACRE office, the decline of existing amenities and failure of the implemented security.
Many were also against using the extra $10 for a skate park because they felt the money needs to go to the roads.---- Resident Ron Nahas said that a skate park is not a “communitywide” amenity but the amenity of a select group of residents.
During a work session Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Susan Shaw (R) said she sees the need for the skate park because “they had a juvenile delinquency problem that they’ve made a lot of headway in.”
But the condition of the roads was the main concern of the residents and the commissioners.
Commissioners’ President Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark (R) said he wonders how many people have paid the STD for 15 years and haven’t seen any improvements, but Shaw was quick to note that the work hasn’t stopped.
“They’ve laid the base to move forward with stormwater management,” and they haven’t touched the already-collected $3.7 million because of the time-consuming process of getting approvals, Shaw said.
Clark questioned whether POACRE already has been allocating money for road maintenance equipment instead of using STD money.
“Over 10 percent of the money is going to that equipment,” he said. “Are they going to be able to pave all the roads in five years and still be able to buy road maintenance equipment?”
He said he was also concerned with being consistent with STD use because in the past the board has not allowed STD money to be used for parks.
One of the six residents who spoke in support of the STD petition was 16-year resident and former president of POACRE John Eney, who said, “With the current STD it would take 40 years to pave all the roads and that’s not assuming they’d need to be paved again.”
Virginia Haskell said she supports the STD petition because the roads aren’t going to be fixed without it and finished by asking the commissioners to find any way the county could help support the roads in CRE.
The commissioners voted to keep public comment open until close of business on Friday.