Amendments Added To DRRA Bill

The Council will hold a public hearing on the legislation next Tuesday.



Frederick, Md (KM) Some changes have been made to a bill covering Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreements. The Frederick County Council voted on Tuesday to add five amendments to the bill.

The amendments were drafted by Councilman Steve McKay. He said a bill proposed by the County Executive would have limited DRRA”s to developments of 1500 homes or more. But McKay says he’s heard from many people, including the planning staff, who told him there are no plans to build a development of that size in the future.. “So there was a thought that setting the threshold that high was a fairly prohibitive element of that bill,” he said.

One amendment McKay has proposed would drop the threshold from 1500 new homes to 900 new homes, or 600 new homes in mixed used development districts.

The bill from County Executive Jan Gardner was in reaction to numerous DRRA’s which had been negotiated with developers by the last Board of County Commissioners, many of which were about 15 to 20 years in length. She had proposed limiting these agreements to five years, with an option to renew for another five years.

McKay is proposing the length of DRRA’s be eight years. That proposal ran into opposition from some members of the board. Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater questioned the need for eight years. “Because the bill already has an opportunity to extend to up to five years after the first five years, I really don’t see the purpose of the eight years,” she said.

Council President MC Keegan-Ayer is also opposed. “I have a problem with eight years because at the end, it extends the length of the time if they come back for an extension to 13 years. A lot can change in 13 years” she said. “As’ someone who had made their name for themselves fighting for schools: In 13 years, a school can go from going from under capacity to severely over capacity.”

Councilman Phil Dacey said he didn’t want restrictions on the county when it comes to negotiating a DRRA if the developer is providing an enhanced public benefit. “If somebody wanted to do it for 100 houses, and if we’re getting something great from that–a big piece of land that the county wanted or something along those lines–I can’t see in theory why we’d want to stop ourselves from being able to do¬† that,” he said.

Other amendments cover the length of time an enhancd  public benefit, such as a road or land for a school, are provided; what happens to the enhanced public benefit if a developer goes bankrupt; and an administrative appeal process.

The Council will hold a public hearing on this bill next Tuesday.


By Kevin McManus