County Refines EDU Policy To Help Specific Developments

SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Commissioners updated standard sewer flow calculations to specifically address shell buildings this week.

Despite county staff’s preferences, the commissioners this week unanimously approved a resolution that will require developers to purchase just one EDU (equivalent dwelling unit) per shell building before they can get their building permit. The change is expected to save developers the expense of purchasing sewer capacity before they know who their tenants will be and how much capacity they’ll need.

“To charge them for EDUs upfront, it puts undue financial burden on them at that point in time,” Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said.

Bob Mitchell, the county’s director of environmental programs, told the commissioners that based on the standard sewer flow calculations approved last year, he thought his office should require a shell building developer to purchase enough EDUs to cover retail use.

“The retail rate is our lowest commercial rate,” he said.

Mitchell said a customer, however, was insisting that the commissioners had approved calculations that required developers to purchase just one EDU per shell building at the outset.

“With this, we’re going to be chasing down an owner after the site plan’s been approved and the shell been constructed….,” Mitchell said. “I don’t know if this is what we had designed to happen on this.”

Mitrecic said one EDU per shell building was what the commissioners had intended.

“We went over this I don’t know how many times,” he said.

Mitrecic said that because developers would have to get a permit to do fit-out and would have to have the proper inspections done to get a business license, there would be plenty of opportunities to ensure the building owner had purchased an adequate amount of sewer capacity.

“A person cannot open a bubblegum stand without a business license,” he said. “If they don’t pay for the EDUs they don’t get a business license. That’s just the way it is.”

Mitchell said the customer questioning the policy was building a 70,000-square-foot building that could eventually require 24 EDUs. Commissioner Ted Elder pointed out that if the developer had to purchase all of those at the outset it would cost a quarter of a million dollars.

“It seems like an awful lot to ask somebody to put out if they don’t have the tenants in there yet,” he said.

Mitchell pointed that another issue to consider was that if the developer didn’t purchase the EDUs now, they might not be available in the future.

“That’s on the developer,” Elder replied.

Commissioner Chip Bertino said the issue had already been discussed and decided. He said he didn’t want to single out Mitchell but thought a significant amount of time was wasted when staff made interpretations of the commissioners’ votes.

“We now have a situation where a developer, a customer of the county, has been delayed because staff has interpreted what they think the commissioners meant,” Bertino said. “I don’t think staff should be interpreting what the commissioners vote on … it wastes time and it’s counterproductive.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.