02/27/08
County delays decision on impact fees

Officials say more information needed before decision is reached


One by one, area business owners begged the Charlotte County Commission to keep reduced impact fees, saying a reversal would only dissuade future development.

Their message was received -- for now.

The commission will delay discussion 60 days in hopes of gathering more information about the fee structure, along with alternatives to rescinding the temporary rollback.

"We just did this," said Commissioner Tricia Duffy. "We haven't given it a chance to work."

Many business owners agreed, indicating at Tuesday's public hearing the lower fees have made a difference.

Earl Snyder of Snyder Construction said his company is taking advantage of the rollback, getting 10 of the county's 32 building permits this month. However, he said his buyers would look elsewhere if the county opted to reinstate the higher fees.

"We need to keep the impact fees down," Snyder said.

The commission lowered the impact fees to the 1997 rates last fall, as a means to stimulate the local economy. It took effect Feb. 12.

Officials began to second-guess the decision when several developers attempted to finalize their agreements.

Those agreements stalled when the commission learned how much they would have to credit the companies for improving several problematic intersections.

Chairman Tom D'Aprile said the rollback was intended to help smaller builders.

However, the original motion did not include any size restrictions for projects where the fees would be applicable.

"I'm going to take the blame here," D'Aprile said. "What I tried to do is bring jobs back to our community for a short period.

"I want to come back with information and some sort of solution."

By JASON WITZ

Assistant Englewood Editor