City considers nixing impact fees

Published on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 by Tara Nelson

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Those wishing to have a say in Blaine City Council’s proposal to remove development  impact fees in the city of Blaine will want to attend a public hearing on Monday, September 28.

The proposal comes shortly after the council eliminated all water and sewer connection fees within city limits in an attempt to spur economic development after pressure from Fairhaven developer Ken Imus. Imus and colleague Kathleen Hill threatened to pull out of Blaine altogether if the city did not make substantial revisions to development fees.

Hill is a principal with Community Studio, a Salt Lake City-based group that is interested in developing property on the Blaine waterfront. Imus is affiliated with the group and has other significant land holdings in the city.

The three alternatives that will be discussed at the September 28 meeting would remove or reduce impact fees for various areas in the city or altogether. Option one would eliminate impact fees citywide; option two would eliminate impact fees in the downtown commercial district; and option three would suspend impact fees city wide while a study is completed.

Impact fees typically go to fund projects that are detailed in the city’s capital facilities plan for traffic and park improvements. A developer of planned unit development, for example, would likely pay impact fees for intersection and road improvements near that project to ensure the increase in traffic would not jeopardize the safety or quality of life enjoyed by current residents.

While a detailed analysis of the financial impact has not been completed, city documents estimate the city would lose approximately $1.5 million in foregone revenue from the elimination of park impact fees over the next 20 years, or about $75,000 annually.

The public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, September 28 at city hall. The proposed amendments can be viewed online at www.cityofblaine.com.