The panel also took testimony on legislation to adjust school mitigation fees.
Frederick, MD (KM) The Frederick County Council met on Tuesday night to discuss new bills. One was sponsored by council member Kai Hagen.
The bill would establish a permit program to allow solicitations of donations in a roadway, a median, or intersection. It would require proof of liability insurance that insures the person soliciting. Hagen said this method of solicitation is not uncommon.
“It’s done now in the City of Frederick, it’s done in many communities of various sizes across the whole country,” he explained.
The current County Code does not allow for pedestrians to solicit donations or money while standing in a roadway, median, or intersection, however, organizations are currently allowed to solicit from sidewalks.
Organizations like the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) use this method of solicitation to raise money for their “Fill the Boot” campaign, which benefits families affected by Muscular Dystrophy. Katie Nash, representing the International Association of Fire Fighters, supported the legislation.
“This collection would benefit our county and operations of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and we heard from them in workshop previously,” she said, “The locally raised funds remain local and benefit our residents here in the county.”
Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins spoke in opposition of the bill. He said he believes it could impact public safety.
“Roadways and intersections are not designed or intended to be occupied by pedestrians collecting money for fundraising activities,” he said. “This act will also create additional risks to county public safety staff, including my deputies, who will be required to enforce the laws in the major heavy traffic in the major intersections.”
Jenkins also said the public is tired of roadside solicitation.
“If you watch the drivers as solicitors approach the cars, they get agitated, they’re bothered, they’re aggravated, and sometimes even intimidated,” he explained.
The Sheriff suggested organizations that want to raise money consider standing outside businesses and shopping centers instead of in major roadways.
School Mitigation Fees
The Council also took testimony on a bill to annually adjust the school mitigation fees. These fees are paid by residential developers whose projects fail the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance schools fest. Under the APFO, the developer would have to stop any construction on the project, or offer to build the additional school capacity Under the school mitigation fee ordinance, they can pay the fee and continue building. The money collected is used for school construction.
This new ordinance would require the fees be adjusted every year to reflect the true cost of school construction.
Representatives from the development community testified. Eric Soter from Rodgers Consulting said he was concerned that the formula for calculating the fees had changed since the law went into affect in 2011. “It’s clear there’s something that is off with the fee structure or methodology for the proposed fees to be well more than double that of the impact fee, noting that the proposed fees would be 139%, 125% and 146% of the impact fees for singles, towns and multi families respectively,” he said.
But Janice Spiegel, the County’s Education Liaison, said the formula has not changed. “That calculation is the same calculation that was used in 2011 and 2014 when the fee was established,” she said.
That was reiterated by one of the bill’s sponsors, Councilman Steve McKay. “The methodology that we’re using is the same methodology that’s been discussed and briefed over the last number of years,” he said.
The Council is expected to vote on this bill at a later date. Another of the legislation’s co-sponsors, Councilman Jerry Donald, said he looks forward to the day when the last portable can be hauled away from local schools.
By Kevin McManus