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Commissioners reject increases in development fees

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By AJ Vicens

A proposal by county staff to raise some fees paid by developers was shot down March 3 by the county commissioners.

Tim Carl, Jeffco’s director of development and transportation, proposed raising certain fees from $100 to $450 over the next three years. Under Carl’s plan, some fees would have increased 25 percent each year through 2011, when they would have been frozen for three years. Starting in 2014, the fees would have been adjusted every three years in line with the Consumer Price Index.

Carl said planning and zoning and other development units in the county don’t recover costs for time spent working on development proposals.

Commissioners Kathy Hartman and Kevin McCasky said they didn’t like the way the fees would adjust every three years based on the CPI.

McCasky, who did most of the speaking in opposition to Carl’s proposal, said that paperwork, not fees, is the biggest problem for developers.

“The surety of procedural time is something most of them want nailed down when they arrive at our doorstep,” McCasky said.

Carl responded that time frames are written into the county’s regulations already.

McCasky also said Carl’s proposal comes at the wrong time.

“This might be one of the worst times to increase fees,” McCasky said.

Carl said he didn’t think raising the fees would derail projects.

“I don’t think, and I mean no offense, that (increased fees) are a deterrent.”

“I don’t think this is a sound approach to increasing fees,” McCasky told Carl. He added that Carl needed to rework the fee-hike proposal in a way that would increase fees slowly over time, rather than abruptly every few years.

According to Carl, the county subsidizes the costs of processing development proposals. For instance, the current cost for a preliminary residential plat under the county’s subdivision guidelines is $300. Carl wanted to boost that fee to $400 in 2009, $600 in 2010 and $1,200 in 2011. Carl said the county’s actual cost, in terms of staff salary and benefits, is $3,301.

A rezoning of a mining planned development application costs $133. That fee wouldn’t have changed at all under Carl’s plan, even though the actual cost to the county is $4,497. A site approval review doesn’t cost anything right now. It would have cost $375 in 2009, 2010 and 2011. It costs the county $2,194.

“This is not a cost-recovery plan,” Carl said. “It’s a cost adjustment.”

Carl said he would bring the commissioners another proposal in coming months.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com. Do you think development fees should be raised? Comment on this story at www.columbinecourier.com.