Glenwood city council takes up fire, other development fees
Glenwood Springs City Council takes its next step tonight in ongoing talks aimed at giving impact fee breaks to developers as an incentive to build modest housing units for area workers.
Recently, water and wastewater system improvement fees levied by the city were adjusted in an attempt to recognize the lesser impact on infrastructure from smaller residential units typically built as part of multifamily apartment or condominium projects.
On the agenda for tonight’s regular council meeting is a review of improvement fees charged to developers for emergency services, parks and schools.
Some discussion has already taken place around the current $1,806-per-unit fee charged developers to help the city keep up with fire and ambulance service demands.
That rate has increased 5 percent annually since it was first adopted in 2003 at $958 per unit, and will continue to increase at that rate every year unless council decides otherwise. The fee also applies to every 1,900 square feet of new commercial space that is developed in Glenwood Springs.
Since its adoption, the impact fee has generated nearly $817,000 toward future improvements such as fire station upgrades and new firefighting and emergency response equipment.
The peak year of 2005 alone saw $295,025 generated, primarily from the city’s approval of the Glenwood Meadows project, compared with a post-recession low of just $7,845 in 2014.
A recent analysis of system improvements that will likely be needed over the next 20 years, ranging from expansion of the West Glenwood and Four Mile fire stations to replacement of several key pieces of equipment, included a more than $5 million price tag.
About 50 percent of that cost should ideally come from impact fees associated with new development, according to the analysis prepared for the city by SGM Engineers.
Based on a projected 1.9 percent annual growth rate over that time, the city should be able to accomplish that by reducing the impact fee to $1,290 per residential unit or equivalent, the analysis concluded.
Also before council is an assessment of current school and parkland dedication fees that are also charged to developers.
School fees are charged based on a formula agreed to between the city and the Roaring Fork School District in 2002, based on the average number of students expected to be added to the local school system for different-size residential units.
Developers can also dedicate a certain amount of land for a school site rather than paying the fee, but more often than not they opt for the fee. School fees can also be waived for certain types of affordable housing developments that could benefit the school district by providing housing for teachers and other staff.
The RFSD school board has also said it would like to review the impact fee structure, but wants to make sure it is applied fairly across the school district.
Rules associated with parkland dedication and fees in lieu are less flexible, according to a staff report prepared by Glenwood Community Development Director Andrew McGregor.
“In the event parkland is not needed due to the size of the development or proximity to (other parks), council may require the applicant to pay a fee … based on a per acre value of $235,706,” he explained.
As with fire fees, that rate is the result of a 5 percent per year increase since the fee’s inception in 2002. Under the existing fee structure, developers are assessed $5,775 for every single-family unit, $9,900 per duplex and $16,499 for a four-plex.
“Incentives for affordable housing projects does not grant council the authority to waive the parkland dedication, or fee in lieu,” McGregor said of the current code.
However, the city can waive up to 25 percent of the fee if a developer provides easement to public lands, on-site recreation amenities or public trails. The city currently has $280,334 in parks fees sitting in its capital improvements fund.
The regular Thursday City Council meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Glenwood Springs City Hall, 101 W. Eighth St.
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