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'Historic' impact?

Developers have until June 1 to request building permits in Sequim's city limits before new impact fees take effect.

Some Sequim's city councilors deemed their March 22 passing of transportation and parks impact fees "historic" after a year of staff reviews and months of public presentations and feedback.

Fees passed for transportation and parks were:

_ $2,893, single-family residence transportation impact fee

The vote passed 5-1 with councilman Don Hall opposed because he thought the 90-percent, $2,604 fee alternative would have been more favorable to builders and developers.

It was approved at the maximum amount.

_ $1,975, single-family residence park impact fee

That vote went 5-1 with Mayor Ken Hays opposed because he wanted to keep a July 1 deadline rather than June, allowing builders more time for the building cycle.

It was approved at 50 percent of the legal amount.

Councilman Bill Huizinga was absent from voting because he was ill.

Better late ...

Half the council wanted fees implemented immediately, whereas others wanted a cushion for builders on July 1 for paperwork to be processed.

Councilor Erik Erichsen said the council had waited long enough and was in favor of right-away fees. He compromised with councilors and proposed a June 1 start.

Laura Dubois, deputy mayor, said there are more than 3,000 undeveloped lots in the city and that now was the time for these fees.

"I agree that we should have had this a decade ago," Hays said.

Mitigation maybe

Following votes on impact fees, the council unanimously accepted documents prepared by city consultants Henderson & Young on mitigation fees.

The council opted not to pursue a set amount for the fees that could underwrite construction of new police and general government buildings, such as a new city hall, and instead agreed that the documents could be used for mitigation with contractors.

This makes mitigation

fees enforcement on a case-by-case basis.

Councilor Ted Miller said it's unlikely that mitigation fees would be enacted for single-family homes but some large-scale commercial developments might receive them.

Low-income removal

The city removed a low-income exemption from the impact fees ordinances for further study with possible insertion at a later date.

City Manager Steve Burkett said the city would hear reports soon on low-income housing from a consultant and citizens group on the topic.

The council expressed concern that there might be a rush for low-income housing requests before June 1, if they kept it in place.

Burkett said if there was a project for approval with Clallam County Housing Authority in the city, then the city would pay for the impact fees.

The council might place the low-income housing exemptions back in the ordinances after testimony, Burkett said.

Opponents remain

A handful of real estate agents, developers and builders were on hand for the decision on the fees.

FaLeana Wech, North Peninsula Building Association executive officer, said she was glad the mitigation fees are going to be assessed differently and not implemented across the board.

"There are more appropriate ways to fund public facilities," Wech said.

Wech testified at the public comment session that there wasn't enough time to assess the full fees process.

"I'm hoping we can work with the city to re-evaluate the parks plan so it reflects the city's overall parks and recreation plan," Wech said.

"I'd like to see the 50-percent amount be the maximum level that would be assessed."

She said cost remains another problem with the fees as building permits now are about $15,000 and with fees it brings it to about $21,000.

Developer Becky Metcalfe said the fees don't make financial sense to her.

"I think litigation is inevitable with city and builders," she said.

The agenda and report can be found on the city's Web site at www.ci.sequim.wa.us.



Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.





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