City to look at planning fees |

City to look at planning fees

Avi Salzman

— For the second time in a year, the city is hoping to change its structure of planning fees, this time to ensure they will work with the new concepts in the revised Community Development Code.

The fees, which were adjusted upward last year after the city found they were artificially low, may be adjusted again tonight by the City Council so they adhere to the new categories created by the new CD Code.

The fees are meant to make growth pay for itself so the city is not using staff time to help developers with their projects and paying for it, according to members of the council.

The new code, scheduled

to be implemented beginning Wednesday, changes the classifications presented in the old code. For instance, there is no “major development permit” category as there was in the past; instead, people must present a development plan and final development plan for certain types of applications, each of which will necessitate different costs. If the application is more complicated and makes planning staff review conditional uses and variations, the costs will increase.

In addition, the city is asking developers to pay more for subdivisions with more lots when they go to subdivide.

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The city had discussed making the fees reflect the amount of time the city spent on the application but decided against it given the individual working styles and speeds of different planners, said Planning Director Wendie Schulenberg.

At least one resident was upset about the timing of the resolution, saying the city was attempting to pass the resolution which needs only one vote too quickly and without enough public input.

“I think the fees should be adopted by ordinance (a two-step process) so the public will have more of an opportunity to read them and comment,” said Attorney Bob Weiss, who often represents developers. “The fact that they chose to do it this way is not good government.”

Because the CD Code is scheduled to start its useful life Wednesday, the council will likely not be willing to delay it longer, he added.

Schulenberg said the city is using a resolution, which takes one vote, rather than an ordinance because the fees are now not part of the code so the language in the code does not need to be changed. A change in language would need an ordinance.

She added the city changed the fees in part to respond to concerns of community members who did not like the old fee structure.