Charles County Commissioners January 14, 2020 meeting briefs

News Release, Charles County Public Information Office

La Plata, MD- On Tuesday, Jan. 14, Commissioners approved a resolution that would temporarily suspend approval of site development plans or Certificates of Use and Occupancy for any property whose use will include adult entertainment in Charles County. For more information about the resolution, read the full news release here.

Additionally, Commissioners voted to sign a letter of support for state legislation that would authorize the College of Southern Maryland to develop the unified budget. Charles, St. Mary’s, and Calvert counties each allocate funds to CSM annually, but the college must apply the funds to each specific county campus as opposed to being applied to the College as a whole. The legislation will allow CSM flexibility to efficiently allocate its resources across the various campuses in the Tri-County region to better serve the needs of its students.

Open Session Briefings

  • Lieutenant Christopher Pachik from the Salvation Army provided an update on the services it provides to the community. Services include assistance for rent and utilities, a food pantry, youth ministry, religious services, and holiday outreach programs for needy families. The Salvation Army raised $96,000 in local kettle donations during its most recent holiday fundraising campaign. The organization has a local office where they offer programs and services and shared its plans to expand its work with youth.
  • Town of La Plata Mayor Jeannine E. James briefed Commissioners on its plan to develop an arts and entertainment district. They discussed the special events and activities that the town currently hosts, and the partnerships that have been secured to support them. Mayor James requested the support of the Commissioners so that the town can leverage tax incentives and grants to invest in its pursuit of designation as an arts and entertainment district. Commissioners voted to approve the request to move forward with developing a proposal with collaboration and support from Charles County.

Legislative Updates

Associate County Attorney Danielle Mitchell briefed Commissioners on legislative activities in the Maryland General Assembly, which convened its 90-day session last week. She provided an overview of important policy issues that could affect the county, including education reform, school construction, and sports betting. She also discussed the status of legislative proposals that Commissioners submitted to the local delegation.

Approval Items

Representatives from Reliant Group Management briefed the Commissioners on their pending application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and requested a letter of support for the application.  Currently, Reliant Group Management owns 3 different apartment complexes in St. Charles, and each complex includes a mix of market-rate apartments with small number units subsidized by HUD project-based vouchers. The purpose of Reliant Group’s application is to request transfer approval from HUD to consolidate the budgets for Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contracts from 3 facilities into one.  Clustering the project-based vouchers into one location is a reliable method to ensure funds remain available for a longer period of time for housing affordability, as well as to off-set the cost of maintaining and improving the quality of apartment-style living in the apartments owned by Reliant Group Management.

In addition to requesting the letter of support for its application, Reliant Group Management shared its mission to improve amenities and services for tenants of affordable housing, by sharing their success in enhancing similar affordable apartments.  The HUD application assures Reliant Group’s compliance with important tenant rights.  For example, current beneficiaries of project-based housing assistance payment (HAP) contracts do not need to relocate in order to continue HAP support, so long as they remain eligible for HUD benefits. Eligible tenants who remain in their current units may select a tenant protection voucher that can be used there or taken to any other rental property that participates in the county’s Housing Choice Voucher program. The Commissioners decided to provide the letter of support that will help to assure affordable housing remains available in Charles County and may even add to the number of affordable, high-quality apartment options available to low-income residents for many years to come.

Commissioners also approved a budget amendment increase of $200,900 to pay for increased fees associated with a new plan review contractor. The county will use fund balance reserves from within the Inspection and Review Enterprise Fund to pay for the additional costs during this fiscal year and evaluate fee increases for next year.

Recognitions

  • The Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition recognized Charles County Government with a Silver Award for Large Organizations. The county received the award for their work in designing and encouraging nursing, working mothers to use a private, furnished space specially equipped for breastfeeding after they return to work from maternity leave. View and download the photo from the county’s online gallery.
  • Commissioners proclaimed January as National Mentoring Month and recognized local volunteers who contribute their time and energy to mentoring children in the community. View and download the photo from the county’s online gallery.

Citizens with special needs may contact the Maryland Relay Service at 711, or Relay Service TDD: 800-735-2258.


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