Council backs big boost in planning fees |

Council backs big boost in planning fees

Dennis Webb
Post Independent Staff

Glenwood Springs will increase the cost of city planning fees sharply.

City Council supported the plan Thursday night by a 6-1 vote.

Glenwood’s fees have been much cheaper than those in many other communities. Even with the increases, they will be lower than in many other places around the country, said city manager Jeff Hecksel.

The change will mean significant jumps in fee costs. For example, the fee for a minor development permit was $75 and will increase to $650. A planned unit development fee will grow from $100 to $1,350.

City community development director Andrew McGregor said the initial goal is to have fees recover 25 percent of the cost of handling applications. Council agreed to let fees grow over the next five years until they cover half the cost to the city.

A major development review can consume from 108 to 170 hours of city staff time, he said.

The city collected $5,666 in fees in 2003, which McGregor said is “relatively inexpensive for the types of values that are added” to properties through the planning process.

Council member Chris McGovern voted against the increase. She said there is a community value to development proposals that should be considered in determining how much of the city’s cost should be recouped.

She also voiced concern that Glenwood already has a reputation as an expensive place for builders to do business.

Also Thursday night:

– The organizer of a recall petition against two Roaring Fork Re-1 School District members told council members she would seek their backing in trying to get the district to reconsider forcing out True Value to build a new Glenwood high school.

Jennifer Vanian, of Glenwood Springs, said she has collected 3,390 signatures so far but would be happy to drop the recall bid if the district would agree to consider options that would let the business stay where they are.

– Council voted unanimously to put a half-cent sales and use tax on this fall’s ballot to fund street maintenance and construction.

The measure would replace and expand on an existing quarter-cent traffic congestion management tax. Voters last fall rejected extending that tax.

While the new project would focus on maintaining and improving existing streets, it also would allow pursuit of new projects, including an environmental impact statement for possible relocation of Highway 82 onto the railroad corridor by the Roaring Fork River.

Two council members, Dan Richardson and Dave Merritt, said they are disappointed the measure doesn’t include funding for mass transit, but still endorse its passage.

– Council tabled a measure to amend city code to define an “in-law unit” and where it is permitted, define “kitchen,” and redefine dwelling units. City planners support the changes as a way to expand housing options for a growing elderly population, and help families take care of relatives.

While some council members support the idea in concept, there also is concern that, if in-law units are allowed in combination with the currently permitted accessory dwelling units, single-family homes essentially could be converted to multi-family units. They want the proposal clarified to limit possible abuse of the measure’s intent.

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