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Planners OK review fees

Tamera Manzanares

The Hayden Planning Commission on Thursday unanimously approved an ordinance requiring developers to pay a deposit covering attorney, engineer or planners’ fees in case the town needs to seek external services while reviewing a project.

The measure, which the Town Board will consider next week, is meant to ensure the town, and ultimately taxpayers, don’t end up footing the bill for outside services needed for reviewing large or complex developments, Town Manager Russ Martin said.

“There was a general agreement that something was necessary to make sure development pays its way,” he said about commission members’ discussion of the issue.

The fees would be in addition to a small set fee that developers pay up front to cover the costs of the town’s review work. For subdivisions, that fee is $500, Martin said.

Accompanying the development review fee agreement will be a schedule of anticipated third-party charges for various projects.

Funds remaining after a service will be refunded to the developer or put toward the next phase of external review. The Town Board will discuss the exact fee schedule, Martin said.

In contrast to hiring a staff planner, whose services may not be needed for each project, the deposit system will save developers and tax payers money in the long run, Martin said.

He noted that some towns charge a large set fee to pay for any outside services needed. Sometimes it’s more than the towns need for certain projects, and if it’s not enough, towns pay the costs out of their general fund.

“I’d rather just charge a developer what it costs to review a project,” he said, adding that the town will try to standardize parts of the review process to ensure attorneys and other outside professionals don’t have to be consulted for every project.

To make sure applicants have a fair development review process, the commission also approved adding an ordinance clearly defining the process for subdivisions and commercial and industrial projects.

The aim is to formalize the process so developers as well as the Planning Commission know what’s expected of them and also to make sure the public has ample time to give their input on the project, Martin said.

The commission also approved a proposal to split a lot on the northwest corner of Sixth Street and U.S. Highway 40.

The purpose of the proposal, submitted by William and Andrea Hayden, is to separate the Hayden Mercantile and the planned Mountain Valley Bank for leasing and paperwork purposes.

The Town Board will discuss both issues Thursday.

— To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com


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