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February 14, 2011

Super Bowl, Charter Board and Builders

Michael Kurtianyk

Well, it was another interesting week in Frederick County. The week began with Super Bowl festivities. Many here gathered around their bowls of chips and HDTVs, all wanting to see what would happen this year – with the commercials.


Were you as underwhelmed as I was? There were too many that seemed sexist and racist. Pepsi Max was the one most talked about. You know the one – the African-American wife tries to stop her husband from eating junk food, finding him in all corners of the house. Then, on a park bench, he drinks the Pepsi Max. It’s only when he turns to ogle the white woman that she throws her Pepsi can at his head, hitting the other woman instead. The couple runs away from the scene of the accident.


There was also the Teleflora ad with Faith Hill, who encouraged a young man to write what was in his heart in his note to his girlfriend. All he came up with was: “Dear Kim. Your rack is unreal.”


Our favorite was the Volkswagen commercial with the Darth Vader kid. It brought the most laughs in our group. The young boy in the full Darth Vader uniform tries to use his hands to make things come to life – a lazy dog; a stuffed animal; and the like. When his father comes home, the boy goes outside to start the car. With the keyless remote, the father starts the car, much to the surprise of the boy. Very funny.


The Packers won the game, by the way, 31-25, over the Pittsburgh Steelers.


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Locally, the deadline came and went for submissions to be on the charter writing board. Late last week, there were just 17 people who’d submitted their resumes. As the deadline approached that number rose to 52. It’s a lot like every election deadline – some start early, and the majority wait until the last minute to declare their intentions.


The list of applicants has a good cross-section of citizens, representing various industries and professions, with some having special-interest viewpoints. There are some real quality people on there.


It will be interesting to see how the county commissioners decide whom they’ll pick, and how many. The purpose of the charter board must be to put in writing what the new county government would look like, and not debate whether or not it should happen. Those discussions are over. The charter board has a difficult task ahead of it, and a good committee is necessary.


The commissioners certainly have enough people from which to choose. The next deadline is March 1. That’s the date set for the charter board to be announced.


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The local builders worked with the commissioners on a proposal to bring more jobs to the area. Currently, if the construction of new homes leads to overcrowding of schools, then the houses can’t be built. This is based on the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO), the county's growth control policy.


The APFO prevents developers from building homes if schools, roads, etc., are not adequate enough to meet the needs of the increased population. Furthermore, builders have to pay an impact fee on new construction. That fee is $14,426 for a single-family house, $12,380 for a townhouse, and $2,367 for all other types of housing. The money from the impact fee goes toward the building of schools and libraries.


Discussions this week centered around a “mitigation fee” – if the development of homes doesn’t pass the APFO tests, then the builders would pay, on top of the current impact fees, $10,046 for a single-family house, $8,633 for a townhouse, and $1,653 for all other types of housing units. The developers would only pay the mitigation fee if they want to build their homes before the county builds a new school.


By all accounts, this should not only bring more jobs to Frederick County, but also bring a new source of revenue to the county. There should be public discussions on this, so that all sides can speak to this issue.


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