Lower Permitting Fees For Some “Midrise” Construction Projects

County Executive Isiah Leggett announced on Nov. 4 changes in permitting structure fees for “midrise” woodframe construction in the County. The change reduces from $8 million to $4.5 million the threshold at which lower permitting fees kick in, a 44 percent reduction in the threshold.

“With recent master plan changes and building code changes, mid-rise woodframe construction has become increasingly popular for multi-family projects,” said Leggett.

“Projects of this type involve multiple connected buildings which, prior to this reduction, were being assessed permitting fees at levels more appropriate to highrises.”

To address this fee anomaly, while balancing the reality that these projects generally involve more reviews and inspections, a workgroup of government and industry representatives reached a consensus upon the reduced threshold.

downtowncrown4For the sample projects that were reviewed, this regulation will result in a fee reduction ranging from $338,503 to $410,144 for each project.

Overall, it is expected that this will result in an annual reduction of fees in excess of $1 million. This fee reduction is in addition to the Department of Permitting Services automation fee reduction the County Executive transmitted to the County Council in September which projected an overall estimated customer savings of $1.5 million. Thus, annually, the collective savings is estimated already to be in excess of $2.5 million.

“This is just another piece of my ongoing Streamlining initiative I announced last year that is designed to make the County more business-friendly and to make it easier to construct housing, especially transit-oriented housing, to meet the future needs of a growing County,” said Leggett.

“The development process in this County is complicated and fragmented, redundant and expensive. The time to make changes is now – to take full advantage of a rebounding economy. We have already worked with stakeholders and have identified more than 60 areas in which improvements are recommended. These improvements are expected to cut approximately one year from development and construction projects which will in turn improve net present value of projects in Montgomery County. A streamlined process is good for everyone. It means projects are completed and available faster. This will add more investment, more jobs, and improve the County’s tax base sooner, not later. Among our accomplishments so far was the consolidation of fire inspections of new commercial and residential construction under the Department of Permitting Services. We completed 2,635 fire system inspections last year, saved our customers in excess of $1 million and what previously took as long as six weeks to complete now takes one business day, and at no additional cost.”

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