Town of Forest Heights, MD
Prince George's County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Town of Forest Heights 7-20-2011 by Ord. No. 08-11. Amendments noted where applicable.]
A. 
The purpose of this Article is to establish certain local procedures in which to grant tax abatements, and to process petitions for annexation or to initiate annexation proposals and resolutions in order to supplement but not conflict with controlling state law generally governing municipal annexations as found in Article 23A of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
B. 
This Article shall not be construed to include a complete or exhaustive restatement of the requirements, notices, publications, procedures, special treatments or rights found in Article 23A, § 19 of the Annotated Code of Maryland, but should be read together with said section of state law.
A. 
In addition to all requirements of state law, each petition for annexation shall be either typewritten or legibly printed and shall contain the address of the property to be annexed and the address of each person signing the petition. In the event that there is more than one petitioner, the petition shall also contain the name, address and telephone number of a designated representative of the petitioners who shall serve as a contact person for the purpose of receiving notices from the Town and requests for further information concerning the petition.
B. 
Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the Town Council from initiating annexations without a petition or otherwise without the consent of the property owner as permitted by state law.
Each petition shall be accompanied by eight copies of a metes and bounds description and of a plat of the property to be annexed, prepared by a professional land surveyor or property line surveyor licensed in the State of Maryland. The plat shall show adjacent Town boundaries, the names of owners of adjoining properties with title references, the zoning of the property proposed to be annexed and of all adjoining properties, and shall have a site map or detail showing the location of the subject property on the County Master Plan and shall be of a scale as requested by the Mayor.
A. 
Upon the filing of any petition for annexation with the Mayor, the same or a copy of the same shall be forwarded to the Town Attorney who shall cause to be made a verification of the signatures thereon for the purpose of verifying whether the same comply with state law. In the event that said verification fails to indicate compliance with state law, the Town Attorney shall advise the Council and the petitioner or petitioners thereof, and no further action shall be taken until compliance is obtained by the petitioner or petitioners. In the event that said verification indicates compliance with state law and that the Town Attorney finds said petition to otherwise be in proper form, then the Town Attorney shall prepare an appropriate resolution proposing a change of boundaries for introduction at the next legislative session of the Town Council and shall advise the representative of the petitioner of such preparation and furnish such representative with a copy of the proposed resolution.
B. 
Prior to the introduction of said resolution, the petitioner or petitioners shall pay to the Town the sum of $1,500 as a refundable deposit toward costs to be incurred by the Town for publication of notices, review of the request by the Town staff, advice and services by the Town Attorney and review by any consultants engaged by the Town. The deposit amount stated herein may be waived, modified or changed from time to time by formal resolution of the Council.
A. 
Upon payment of the sum set forth in Section 24.4, the resolution shall be formally introduced at a legislative session of the Council, which shall thereafter cause public notice of a hearing thereon to be given as required by state law and which shall also refer the same to the Town staff, outside agencies or any applicable consultants for study and recommendations.
B. 
After the first publication, a copy of the public notice shall be provided certain agencies as required by state law.
The Mayor and Council, in its discretion, may request additional information from the petitioner or petitioners, such as, but not limited to, topographic information, traffic studies, environmental reports, land use plans, permits or municipal service provision studies.
A. 
The Mayor shall cause any written report and/or recommendations made by the staff or a consultant to be furnished promptly to the representative of the petitioner or petitioners. At the conclusion of the public hearing or public hearings thereon, the Council shall announce the date of the legislative session at which it intends to act upon said petition and shall give notice of that fact to the representative of the petitioner or petitioners.
B. 
At the legislative session designated for action upon said petition, the Council may propose that the same be denied, be unconditionally granted or be granted subject to conditions. In the event that the petitioners fail to attend said meeting or attended the same but failed to object to any of said proposed conditions, they shall be deemed to have consented to the same in the event that said petition is granted, and said conditions shall be binding upon the petitioners, each of them and all persons thereafter acquiring an interest in the property so annexed.
Upon the written request of any petitioner, signed by him or her in person, or upon verbal request made by any petitioner at any public hearing on the petition or at any legislative session at which the resolution in connection therewith is being considered, the petition may be withdrawn, or amended to exclude a given petitioner's property.
A. 
Before taking final action upon any such petition or in the event that any such petition is withdrawn, the Mayor shall advise the petitioners' representative of the total charges incurred for review of the same by the staff, services of the Town Attorney and any consultants and costs of publication of required notices of hearing, to which 10% will be added toward the Town's administrative costs and overhead. In the event that the resulting figure is less than the fee imposed in Section 24.4, then the difference will be refunded to the representative of the petitioners; but if greater, the petitioners shall pay the difference.
B. 
Each of the petitioners shall be jointly and severally liable for the payment of any such sum and, in addition to all other rights and means of collection, the Town shall be authorized to withhold final action on such petition until payment is made and to refuse to accept any subsequent petition from any of the petitioners for annexation or application for the issuance of any other permit, license or approval which any of them may thereafter seek from the Town. All sums due from the petitioners shall bear interest at 10% per annum commencing 30 days after written request for payment.
C. 
In case the petition is approved and any charges incurred pursuant to this Article are left unpaid for a period exceeding six months, the charges may be added to the tax bill for the property and collected in the same manner as municipal property taxes.
Upon application to the Mayor and Council, a commercial establishment desiring to locate within the Town or a property owner desiring to be annexed into the Town may be granted an abatement of real property or other Town taxes by a majority vote and formal resolution of the Council.
A. 
Tax abatements for commercial development within the Town may be granted when improvements made to real property would cause a significant increase in the assessable base of the applicable real property by at least 50% or would result in increasing employment opportunities for the citizens of the Town.
B. 
Commercial development tax abatements may be granted for all or a portion of the expected tax increases resulting from real property improvements.
C. 
Commercial development tax abatements may be granted for a period not to exceed five years.
Full or partial tax abatement incentives to property owners desiring to be annexed into the Town may be granted for such periods of time not to exceed 10 years as the Council finds is in the best interests of the Town and is fair to the property owner desiring annexation.
A. 
The terms, conditions and amount of any municipal tax abatements made pursuant to Section 24.11 or 24.12 shall be decided on an individual basis by the Council upon separate application by commercial establishments or by property owners.
B. 
Special treatment of residents and property in an area to be annexed as to rates of municipal taxation and as to the provision of municipal services and facilities may be included in the terms and conditions determined by the Council.
In granting tax abatements pursuant to this Article, the Council shall make specific findings as to why the tax abatements granted are necessary and in the best interests of the residents of the Town.
Each grant of tax abatement shall be made by a separate resolution duly offered and adopted at a public meeting of the Town Council.