BREWER, Maine — A proposal to remove the requirement that the city manager approve changes in the formula for “impact fees” charged to businesses was posted at Tuesday’s City Council meeting for a future vote, even though city planners oppose the move.
The Planning Board voted 6-0-1 on Monday to recommend that the council not adopt the proposed change, which was brought forward by Councilor Arthur “Archie” Verow.
The city created its impact fee ordinance in May 2001 as a way to offset costs of improving infrastructure — roads, traffic control, water, stormwater and waste handling — when a new business or development settles in the Wilson Street corridor.
The current policy has checks and balances in place to ensure all businesses and developers are given the same treatment when the impact fee is assessed, and “the proposed language change may take away that needed aspect,” City Planner Linda Johns told the council.
“The determination of the calculation fee is a technical process and not political,” she said in a memo to councilors, informing them of the Planning Board’s decision.
Impact fees are one-time payments and their amounts are “determined on the basis of infrastructure needs in the service area, the proportionate share generated by the development project and the timing of proposed infrastructure improvement,” the land use code states. “The formula for assessing said fees for each Area Capital Investment District will be prepared and submitted by the City Manager to the City Council for approval, and may be amended periodically by the Council upon recommendation by the City Manager.”
The proposed amendment would remove the word “upon” in “upon recommendation by the city manager” and replace it with “with or without a” recommendation by the city manager.
A waiver provision and appeal process through the City Council already are in place, Johns noted. She said the current ordinance allows city councilors to waive or reduce impact fees for projects that have “significant public purpose or benefit.”
Existing businesses are not subject to the fees unless they expand or change uses.
City councilors will discuss and vote on amending the impact fee rules at a future meeting.