LEONARDTOWN, Md. — During its September 12 meeting, the Leonardtown Town Council announced the town will be moving forward with a long-discussed expansion of its wastewater treatment plant, as well as an increase to impact fees on equivalent dwelling units that help fund these facilities.
The expansion would increase the number of gallons of water per day that can be treated from 680,000 to 1 million since the town has exceeded the 80% capacity at the current facility, said Laschelle McKay, the town administrator.
“We have a number of productive projects in process, so we really do need to get the expansion moving,” McKay said. “We have talked about this for a number of years.”
The project, which will cost $18.1 million, includes reconfiguring land next to the wastewater treatment plant that the town purchased for shellfish protection tanks.
This will be an 18 to a 24-month-long project, McKay said. But the outcome is expected to yield wastewater support for approximately 992 new EDUs.
Also, the town council approved a $15.1 million contract with Michael Ronca & Sons of Bethlehem, Pa, who were the lowest of three bidders, for the project. However, the town still has to go through the bonding process before it’s official. Additionally, the council approved a $1.4 million contract with GDH Inc. for construction management services.
The town already has $5.5 million worth of collected impact fees that will help pay for the project. Along with these impact fees, the town plans to use $3.8 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds and borrow around $8.1 million. The town will not need those funds until late 2023.
There will be a public hearing on October 11 to increase the impact fee and help offset costs. The proposal would raise the fee from $13,000 to $18,000 per EDU, an increase of roughly 38.46%.
According to a separate report to the council back in February 2022, populations of the surrounding areas are expected to significantly increase over the next few years. 8,300 new residents within a 10-minute drive are expected to seek residency over the next five years.
Additionally, property values have increased by wide margins in Leonardtown, up nearly 15.7% just this year, according to Bright MLS.
It is unclear how changes to the impact fee could impact the development of Leonardtown in the future, if at all. However, McKay maintains that the town has arrangements and has seen more than enough development to support the necessary funding over the 20-year loan period.
Any changes would go into effect 20 days after the approval by the council and only apply for new projects that are approved after the date, McKay said.
Leonardtown will hold its next town council meeting on October 10 at 4 p.m.
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