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Realtors pan fees

Real estate agents took aim at the city's proposed impact fees and mitigation fees during Monday night's council meeting.

An open house on the proposed fees to fund transportation improvements, new parks and expanded water and sewer service is set for 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9, at the Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St.

It will include a presentation by the city's consultant on the rate studies used to calculate the fees plus opportunities to ask questions and make written and verbal comments.

A council workshop on the proposed fees is set for Monday, Feb. 22, followed by a public hearing at the March 8 council meeting. The fees could be adopted at the March 22 council meeting.



Subsidize services

FaLeana Wech said according to a study by economist Elliot Eisenberg, new housing pays for itself in the first year and provides a profit to the city in the following years.

Wech is the government affairs director for the North Peninsula Building Association.

She said this means new housing subsidizes the services provided to existing housing.

Karen Pritchard, a real estate agent in Sequim for 20 years, said many think it is a "fait accompli" that people will continue to move to Sequim.

But these kinds of fees can get to the level where people stop moving here because they can't afford it, she said.

Then elitism sets in, and that destroys any chance for developing affordable housing, Pritchard said.



Keep growth in city

Emily Westcott said her real concern is not that people won't come to the Sequim area but they will be forced to live in the county.

"We want to keep our farmlands," she said.

City Manager Steve Burkett said the open house displays will include comparisons of development costs in cities with and without impact fees as well as comparing development costs in Port Angeles and the county.

When growth occurs, a city must expand its water and sewer service, and it's understood that growth should pay for that, he said.



Pays for parks, streets

It's not as much understood that growth should pay for traffic improvements and more parks, Burkett said.

Projected costs for dealing with increased traffic are $33 million with half being paid by developers through impact fees and the other half by current residents through existing taxes, he said.

The same concept applies to new parks to deal with growth, Burkett said.

The rate studies will be available online at the city's Web site, public works building, city hall and the library, he said.

Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

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