October Update
  • Affordable Housing

A coalition of housing advocates has filed a complaint with the county over their affordable housing plan and are threatening a federal lawsuit.  The County Administration continues to negotiate with the advocates and are trying to resolve the issue to prevent a lawsuit.  The group wants more affordable housing options inside the URDL as well as a voucher program and more affordable housing requirements in PUD legislation.  The Chapter is monitoring developments and will stay involved if legislation is introduced.

  • Open Space

Earlier this year when the Council approved new open space waiver fees, they instructed the Planning Commission to study the fee methodology and provide recommendations for changes by October 1.  The Chapter has been following this issue and the Commission has not begun this study and did not provide recommendations by Oct. 1.  We continue to follow this issue and will be involved in any discussions.

  • Water Meters

The Chapter continues to seek a resolution to 2 water meter issues our members are having with the increased meter size.  Below is a summary of the two issues:

ISSUE #1: Minimum water usage charges are based on the size of the water meter – which is sized according to the estimated water demands of a given house.  Because all new houses are now required to have fire sprinklers installed, water meter sizes have to be upsized 2 or 3 times and no longer accurately reflect typical water consumption. Prior to the sprinkler requirement, typical water consumption for a single family home translated to a meter size of 5/8" - which corresponds to an annual minimum water usage charge of $58.20. In order to now accommodate sprinklers, water meters are often having to be upsized to 1" – which translates to an annual minimum water usage charge of $232.84 (4 times more than is the case for a 5/8” meter).

As a result, many homeowners that are making concerted efforts to conserve water are no longer seeing this reflected in lower water bills.   With the minimum water usage assessment being based on an inflated minimum consumption volume, it can actually discourage water conservation efforts.  The mentality becomes - “If I’m paying for the water, I might as well as use it.”  We believe minimum water usage charges for homes should be based on the rate for 5/8" meters - as was the case prior to the sprinkler requirement.

ISSUE #2: Minimum water usage charges are commencing once the water service laterals are installed. The problem in this is that it can be several months, sometimes years from the time the lateral is installed until a house is under construction. Depending on the size of the development, these quarterly minimum water usage charges can add up quickly.  We believe the charges should instead commence upon issuance of a building permit.

Michael Harrison
Director of Policy for Government Affairs
410-265-7400, ext. 109

Service Area: Baltimore, Carroll, Howard Counties and State Legislation