Fines jump for building illegally

County Council also passes senior tax credit; bingo tax hike vote delayed

By ERIN COX Staff Writer

In two separate bills last night, the County Council voted to increase a tax credit for seniors and institute a hefty fine for unlawful building.

Residents who skirt the county's permit rules now face $500-a-day fines for constructing sheds, decks, piers or entire homes without permits. Only a judge can impose the fines.

County Executive John R. Leopold had the bill, designed to curtail egregious violations of the county's building code, introduced partly to repair the county's reputation after a developer built a sprawling home on a private island in the Magothy River without permits.

The other bill passed last night also came from Mr. Leopold. The senior tax credit would expand a state program, saving about 2,700 seniors 70 and older an extra $86 a year in property taxes, on average. The credit applies only to seniors who have lived in their homes for at least 10 years.

The council voted 6-0 in favor of both bills with little discussion besides Councilman Ed Middlebrooks, R-Severn, jokingly complimenting his own amendments to the permit bill. Those amendments resolve previous council concerns that residents would be forced to leave their homes or pay huge fines for building an illegal deck.

Published April 04, 2007, The Capital, Annapolis, Md.

(Revised April 2007)