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Enacting Fee System for Forest Developers Approved

It is called the Payment in Lieu of Planting Fee or Enacting Fee System, a fee that is paid to protect existing forests on a development site instead of planting new ones.

HAGERSTOWN, Md. - State laws are constantly changing, making room for local officials to make amendments and one them are changes to the Washington County Forest Ordinance.

Washington County Commissioners held a public hearing where an increase in fees for planting was discussed.

"Because of the increase in fees, it's going to mean we'll have to collect more fees or higher fees when developers choose that option," said Stephen Goodrich, Washington County planning director.

It is called the Payment in Lieu of Planting Fee or Enacting Fee System, a fee that is paid to protect existing forests on a development site instead of planting new ones.

"The fee is currently ten cents per square foot of the area of the needed mitigation, and the fees going up to 30 cents per square foot in urban areas and 36 cents in rural areas," said Goodrich.

State laws have been changing since 2009 and this change is just one of the many that is being implemented.

While this fee increase may not be great news for everyone, Goodrich says he is promises the money will go towards Maryland's natural resources.

"The fee itself is an increase, not good news for anybody, but the fees do go up towards planting forests and preserving existing forests," said Goodrich.

These amendments have been proposed for several years and this time, the changes were finally accepted.

Goodrich said, "The ones that are recommended by the planning staff is because of our experience with administering the law in the past 20 years, and things that we think will make administration of the law more efficient and make the law more effective."

The fees support an agreement between the county and the Soil Conservation District, which uses the fees to plant new forest or protect existing ones in stream buffers.



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