Town leaders have taken the first steps, ones they forgot to take earlier this year, toward loosening rules on the use of transportation impact fees collected from new development.
The town proposed a bill to state legislators earlier this summer to amend its charter, which currently states the town can spend no more than 50 percent of the fees it collects from developers for a single capital project.
The fees must also be used within six years of the time they are deposited, or the town has to refund the fees plus interest.
In June, however, Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny had the bill pulled because the town had yet to adopt a required formal resolution calling for the change.
Figuring July 7 would be the earliest they could meet the requirement, Zebulon leaders didn’t think that would leave enough time before the legislature concluded its session.
“The (town) board agreed to proceed with it, but hadn’t done it formally and that was a mistake,” Matheny said in June. “So if you make a mistake, you correct it.”
The town had to pass the resolution and hold a public hearing, which it did last week, before state leaders could act on the proposed amendments.
“The next step now is it goes back to the legislature for their approval, but it won’t be until they come back into session at the first of next year,” Matheny said at a meeting last Monday.
The proposed bill, House Bill 1147, 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.
The town has had the authority to impose impact fees since amending its charter in 1989, but never put the method to use until May of this year.
Beyond striking the spending limit, the bill calls for giving the town 10 years from the time of collection to use the fees for different projects.
The bill doesn’t appear to have any obstacles at the legislative level. Rep. Chris Malone, a Wake Forest Republican who represents Zebulon, and Rep. Darren Jackson, a Knightdale Democrat, were listed as its primary sponsors.
“We’ll do it in January and get it done,” Malone said in June. “It has full support of the delegation, both Republicans, Democrats, House and Senate.”
The Wake County legislative delegation also unanimously supports the bill, according to Matheny.
“It looks like we’re sitting in good position to go ahead and have these amendments made,” the mayor told the town board.