Clarksburg memo riles residents
Clarksburg activists say they are still sifting the legal and policy documents that County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) offered up yesterday as a possible way to resolve a dispute over whether to tax residents to repay developers for at least $60 million in roads, sewers and green space they agreed to build more than a decade ago when they won development rights.
Lynn Fantle, author of a report for a panel convened last year by County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) to examine the dispute (and, some say, to get it off his agenda during an election year), said she was still struggling to understand what Montgomery County gains by allowing developers to be repaid for infrastructure.
After all, she said, the development community builds the roads, installs the sewers and provides green space to support their multi-million dollar developments where many houses are now valued at $1 million and more.
"What benefit is it to the county if the taxpayers are going to be shoulder the burden of developers' expenses," she said. "What are developers providing that Montgomery lacks?"
Fantle is a member of both the Duncan panel and the Clarksburg Town Center Advisory Committee. Both groups concluded in March that the tax was illegal and that residents had not been properly notified.
Leggett issued what amounted to a combined legal opinion and policy paper that said the tax on Clarksburg residents to repay developers is legal but should be reduced to placate angry homeowners who say they only recently learned about it.
Leggett (D) said he would recommend to the County Council and the developers in Clarksburg that they consider funding fewer items and lowering the tax while using it to pay for amenities such as a new library.
County officials and developers previously estimated that residents would be asked to reimburse the developers for at least $60.million worth of roads, sewers, green space and other improvements by paying at least $1,500 per household annually. About 2,800 households, with some 9,500 residents, would be taxed under current plans.
His proposal to use the tax to pay for fewer items could leave the developers responsible for the cost of some amenities that have already been built.
Douglas Delano, a regional vice president for Newland Communities, which is developing Clarksburg Town Center, said company officials were pleased that Leggett had validated the tax and said he looked forward to working out details of who would be paying for what.
As for the possibility that some items developers already built and paid for might now not be reimbursed by the county, Delano said it was "premature" to speculate.
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