Permit fee, planning commission membership bills approved
DENTON — The Caroline County commissioners at their meeting Tuesday, Nov. 27, approved two new bills, one that makes public landing permit fees the same for in-state and out-of-state users, and one that clarifies and changes membership requirements for the Caroline County Planning Commission.
Both bills were introduced Tuesday, Oct. 9. Public hearings for each were held Tuesday, Nov. 13. Other than support for the permit fee bill from the Caroline County Department of Recreation and Parks Advisory Board, neither bill generated any public feedback.
Acting Caroline County Administrator Sara Visintainer said at the bills’ introduction in October the bill to eliminate the differential in permit fees for in-state and out-of-state users will allow the county to qualify for federal grant money, to make improvements to public waterways.
“There’s a significant federal funding source available for local governments, but since it’s federal money, they require we treat different state users the same,” Visintainer said.
Specifically, there is a $350,000 project that needs to be completed at the Choptank Marina, Visintainer said, that could be paid for with the grant money.
Eliminating the up-charge for out-of-state permits would only result in a loss of about $3,000 in revenue, Visintainer said.
“It’s a good return,” she said.
After the commissioners unanimously approved the bill, Visintainer said it will be effective in 45 days, Jan. 11, 2019, making the county eligible to apply for the federal grant when it becomes available next year.
Currently, an annual permit for a boat or trailer registered in Maryland is $20; one for a boat or trailer registered in any other state is $50.
The other approved bill does not change the number of members of the seven-seat planning commission, but makes a few small changes to composition requirements.
As was already the case, one county commissioner will be serve as an ex officio member of the planning commission, but the new language states in the event that commissioner cannot attend a meeting, either of the other two commissioners can serve as alternates.
Of the other six planning commission members, only one can be a resident of an incorporated town, at least one shall be a developer or builder and at least three should have agriculture expertise, either through education or work experience.
Those requirements are the same as in the current language.
However, the approved bill adds that elected officials at the state, county or municipal level are not eligible to serve on the planning commission, to avoid a situation in which one person has dual responsibilities, or a conflict of interest, Visintainer said.
Terms shall remain at five years.
The bill also makes clear a planning commission member serves until a successor is appointed, Visintainer said.
That bill is effective immediately, Visintainer said.