Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Impact Fee Expansion Sought to Better Roads; Commissioners Argue Development throughout the County Creates Traffic

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Impact Fee Expansion Sought to Better Roads; Commissioners Argue Development throughout the County Creates Traffic

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

The Clay County Commission is poised to take the first step toward implementing a long-discussed transportation impact fee.

And the local building and development industry is poised to voice its opposition.

In 2004, when the commission approved developer assessments for improvements to overburdened roads, they also agreed that developers should pay additional fees to help build new roads needed for a growing population.

Next month, the commission is expected to consider a contract for a road impact fee study, which will recommend a rate structure and provide legal and technical justification, based on projected future transportation needs.

The study is a legally required first step for the commission before it votes whether to pursue road impact fees, said commission Chairman George Bush. But commissioners have said repeatedly in the past that increased revenues would be needed to keep up with growth.

"The board has made a solid commitment to make sure new growth pays its fair share," Bush said.

Developers in high-growth areas such as Branan Field and Lake Asbury pay the so-called "fair share" assessment. Under that system, developers pay cash fees, based on the projected traffic impacts of their developments, to fund county road improvements or hire their own contractors to construct authorized road improvements such as additional traffic lanes, turn lanes and signals.

The fair share system, which was patterned after a similar pay-as-you-go program in Jacksonville, is designed to permit continued development in areas where the county has stopped issuing permits because of overcrowded roads.

Road impact fees would be applicable throughout the county, not just in areas where growth has overburdened roads.

"Fair share deals with deficiencies, failing roads," said county Planning Director Thad Crowe. "Impact fees deal with long-term transportation needs, new roads."

Bush said builders developing high-growth areas such as Branan Field and Lake Asbury pay fair share assessments. But developments in lower-profile parts of the county are part of the traffic congestion problem as well, he said. …

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