- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The St. Mary’s County commissioners are formally asking for state authority to deal locally with nuisance properties through a property maintenance ordinance.
The commissioners forwarded its package of new law proposals to state lawmakers on Tuesday for consideration in the next session of the Maryland General Assembly.
In those proposals, the county seeks authority to identify a nuisance property, allow the owner to abate the nuisance or do the work itself and place a lien on the property to cover the cost.
At a recent meeting between the commissioners and state legislators, Sen. Roy Dyson (D-St. Mary’s, Calvert, Charles), expressed concerns about the measure.
Four of the commissioners approved the request. “We need to do something,” said Commissioner Dan Morris (R). Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R) opposed the request.
Under the proposal, a nuisance property could be defined as “reasonably determined to be detrimental to the health, safety, welfare or morals of neighboring properties or their occupants.”
An actual county ordinance would be drawn up if the legislature approves the local authority.
In other proposals, the commissioners, on a 4-1 vote, are asking the state to make an exemption from new septic regulations for farmstead properties. In certain rural areas, some large properties would be limited to seven homes on septic systems under the new rules. The commissioners are asking to exempt 15-acre farmsteads from the state law. Commission President Jack Russell (D) said no to the request.
Three of the commissioners turned down a proposal to waive connection requirements to new adjacent central water and sewer lines as defined in several areas of county law.
A work group has been formed to study the issue. Commissioners Cindy Jones (R), Todd Morgan (R) and Russell agreed to let the group do its work first. Jarboe and Morris disagreed. Morris said of the connection requirements, “I think it’s a blatant disregard for property rights,” when there is already a perfectly good well or septic system.
Four of the commissioners agreed to ask for borrowing authority of $30 million in possible future building projects. Jarboe said no.
Three of the commissioners are asking to change the building impact fee charged on smaller homes. Currently all new homes pay $4,500, to help cover the cost of new schools, roads and parks, though fiscal analysis over the years has shown the fee does not come close to covering those actual costs. The fee has not been changed since 2000.
Russell and Morgan said no to the request. “The impact fee we have now is not adequate,” Russell said.
For those who build smaller homes, “They’re being discriminated against on a cost basis,” Jarboe said. With everyone paying the $4,500 fee, larger homes pay less per square foot, he said.