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Emmitsburg rejects waiver request

Rick Fulton
Gettysburg Times

(9/16) Emmitsburg Town Council voted unanimously Monday night to reject the request of developers to waive service surcharges.

John McConnell, market land manager for NVR Home and Ryan Homes, presented Ryan Homesí case for seeking a waiver of the surcharges placed by the town on water and sewer connections or taps.

Ryan Homes is the developer for the Brookfield development located in Emmitsburg.

Emmitsburg charges a $4,000 connection fee for water and a $4,000 connection fee for sewer service for new homes.

In addition, new homes are assessed a $7,000 surcharge for water and a $7,000 surcharge for sewer.

The collective charges and surcharges add $22,000 to the price of each new home constructed in the town.

On top of this are other permit-related fees charged by entities outside of Emmitsburg for each new Emmitsburg home.

McConnell told the council that the cumulative charges paid to government, local and county, to build in Emmitsburg amount to more than $40,000 per home.

The manager said costs associated with their new home construction in Frederick amount to $29,000, and from $7,900 to $10,857 in Waynesboro.

The concern over getting the surcharges waived stems from the depressed housing market and the accompanying foreclosure rate.

Houses arenít selling for what they were during the past couple of years, and the stock pile of unsold and foreclosed homes is creating a stockpile of available homes.

The end result is that new homes are not bringing the prices they were once projected to bring when many of the developments were originally proposed and approved.

Ryan Homes opened for sale in May 2003 and sold 38 homes through August 2004.

In August 2004, the town passed the sewer surcharge, and then in May 2006, the water surcharge was passed.

The surcharges were passed to produce money that could be allocated towards the millions of dollars needed to overhaul and upgrade the water and sewer infrastructure that had been neglected for decades.

This year, only seven homes have been sold in the Brookfield development, even with the developers cutting options and lowering the prices.

McConnell said his concern was the development, which has seven homes or lots left to be sold in Section Two, 21 in Section Three, and 19 in section Four, could come to a screeching halt, leaving residents who have bought into the development living in an unfinished development, or living among construction activities due to the build out becoming more prolonged.

In spite of the plea from the developers, the council voted unanimously to deny the request for the waivers.

Councilman Clifford Sweeney said, "Itís very difficult to sit up here and not help you. Our forefathers put this infrastructure in and then didnít take care of it."

Before the final vote of denial, McConnell stated he felt it unfair to place the burden of financing a significant portion of the rehabilitation of the infrastructure on new homeowners.

"It isnít fair to put the burden on...new residents for problems that existed for years," he said.

Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town Government