The Windsor Town Board expressed interest at the board’s Monday work session in incrementally raising development fees for developer applications.
Joe Plummer, Windsor’s director of planning, said after presenting building permit and development fee comparisons to the board at an Aug. 19 work session, staff was recommending the board not increase building permit fees.
He said the fees are comparable to neighboring communities, have been updated within the last 10 years and will keep the town competitive in recruiting new businesses.
Plummer also recommended that staff not increase development fees for private individuals filing land use applications, such as lot line adjustments, variances and conditional use grant applications. He said the number of these requests staff receives is minimal, so they only minimally impact staff costs and time.
However, Plummer recommended that the board consider raising development fees for applications filed by developers, the majority of which he said hadn’t been raised since 1996.
The recommendation also included a request to consider collecting $6,000 from applicants any time the engineering department determines the town will need to contract out for an independent flood study review. If the study were to come back with a cost less than $6,000, the town would return the difference to the applicant.
Mayor John Vazquez said the town uses Anderson Consulting Engineers as its third-party review entity and asked if it would preclude developers from hiring the firm because of a conflict of interest.
Plummer said the town would accept reviews from ACE.
“I understand the intent and the logic,” Vazquez said. “But … the appearance is that we are holding other firms to a different standard than we are Anderson, just because of the relationship. So, I’m not saying it’s not wise to have third-party review, especially on the flood areas. I’m not suggesting we don’t have that component. I’m just curious how we’re going to address that particular issue until we move forward.”
Town Manager Kelly Arnold said town staff will take the board’s direction and work out more of the proposal’s details before bringing it back to the board.
On the topic of development fees, Vazquez said he didn’t think the town should immediately raise development fees to the recommended level, which would put them higher than average for the neighboring communities.
Town board member Kristie Melendez said had “grave concerns” about how the proposal would impact economic development, and said she didn’t think it was developers’ problem that the rates hadn’t been raised since 1996.
Rather, she recommended the town raise development fees incrementally.
Town board member Robert Bishop-Cotner said it was outrageous that the development fees hadn’t been increased in 20 years and said they need to be increased incrementally.
“What I’ve been told over 6 years is ‘development pays its own way,’” Bishop-Cotner said. “Development doesn’t pay its own way when it comes to these.”
Boars member Don Thompson said he agreed with Bishop-Cotner.
Melendez said she felt the town should raise development fees for applications submitted by developers to 80 percent of the average rate of the surrounding areas over a period of 3 years, but keep an eye on changing economic conditions in case the rates need to be adjusted.
Arnold said he would come back to the board in couple of weeks with an adjusted chart and recommended the board get the development community involved in the discussion once the board has had another chance to look at the proposal.