SALISBURY – Wicomico County officials passed a resolution to waive a nonprofit’s building permit fees, bringing forth discussions about broadening the scope of the resolution to include all nonprofits that conduct similar services.
The Wicomico County Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday that will allow the Chesapeake Housing Mission to conduct critical home repairs and services, such as wheelchair ramp installations, without paying building permit fees.
Don Taylor and Allen Brown of the Chesapeake Housing Mission – a referral-based organization that provides repair services to households living below the poverty line – told councilmembers that Wicomico County and Cambridge were the only two jurisdictions in the four lower counties where they still pay building permit fees.
Taylor, executive director for the nonprofit, explained that some jurisdictions, such as Salisbury, exempt 501c3s from such fees. In other municipalities, like Berlin, the organization requests yearly waivers.
“It’s been different depending on what jurisdiction you are working in,” he said.
Taylor told the council that funding to operate the Chesapeake Housing Mission comes from donations, and money saved from the waiver would benefit community members living below the poverty line.
Councilman Joe Holloway added he was surprised the county required building permits for wheelchair ramps – which Taylor said made up 90 percent of the organization’s services – and added he didn’t know about it until community members approached him last year.
Councilman Marc Kilmer applauded the work of the Chesapeake Housing Mission, but expressed concerns about granting one organization a special request. He suggested adding all nonprofits of this nature to the resolution.
“That is something I would rather explore than having a resolution that singles your organization by name,” he said.
Council President John Cannon agreed looking into a broader resolution for the next council meeting, but made a motion to approve the Chesapeake Housing Mission’s current request.
“I think this is something we want to run through [attorney] Mr. Baker first and see what the city has to make sure we are covering all of our bases, instead of putting something together now and finding out we’ll have to amend it anyway,” Cannon said.
All were in favor of the motion to waive Chesapeake Housing Mission’s future building permit fees and the resolution passed.