Legislation filed in the state House on March 18 has Zebulon back on track in its effort to gain more leeway in the use of transportation impact fees collected from developers.
The town attempted last year to amend its charter, which states the town can spend no more than 50 percent of the fees it collects from developers for a single capital project. The charter also says the town must use such fees within six years of the time they are deposited, or refund the fees plus interest.
Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny had the first try at the amending bill pulled last June, however, because town leaders overlooked a required resolution calling for the change and didn’t think they could pass a resolution before the legislature concluded its session.
The town made the resolution official and held a public hearing on the matter last September, giving state leaders the green light to act on the proposed amendments.
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The proposed bill, formerly House Bill 1147 and now labeled HB 307, is expected to go through without a hitch as it was when first introduced.
“I do expect it to pass pretty easily in that all the stakeholders are in agreement now and I know of no opposition,” said Rep. Darren Jackson, a Knightdale Democrat and primary co-sponsor of the bill with Rep. Chris Malone, a Wake Forest Republican.
The Wake County legislative delegation also unanimously supported the bill at its inception. Matheny on Wednesday said he knew of no changes in that support.
“I think we’re good to go,” Matheny said. “I haven’t heard anything derogatory, but with the legislature you never know until they put their final seal of approval on it.”
Zebulon has had the authority to impose impact fees since amending its charter in 1989, but never put the method to use until May 2014.
Fees are imposed on any development that requires a new building permit, including upfits to existing properties. Collected fees are placed into trust funds that are treated like bank accounts for projects throughout town.
The proposed bill would give the town the authority to spend as much as it wants from developers’ fees to pay for individual road, open space and recreation projects. Beyond striking the spending limit, the bill also calls for giving the town 10 years from the time of collection to use the fees for different projects.
The bill passed a first reading, a formality in which no vote was taken, on March 23 and was referred to the House Committee on Finance.
“I think House Finance will consider it in short order,” Jackson said.
Staff writer T. Keung Hui contributed to this story.