State Republican Rep. Sarah Stevens of Mount Airy is a long way from Chapel Hill and Orange County, but by golly, she’s ready to serve developers whenever they need her, apparently. Stevens told The News & Observer she’s intervening on behalf of a specific developer, the owners of Town House Apartments on Chapel Hill’s Hillsborough Street, on the issue of impact fees.
Under her bill, which has passed the state House, Orange County no longer would have the power to charge development fees to fund school construction. (Most counties use such fees for infrastructure such as water and sewer.)
Stevens said new construction fees for those Chapel Hill developers went from $300,000 to $1.5 million. That does sound excessive, and Rep. Graig Meyer, a Hillsborough Democrat, acknowledged he thought that was too much but that local officials have fixed the problem.
Thus, there should be no need for this “make-an-example-of-you” kind of action, and it represents the legislature reaching down to interfere in local policy. But apparently, Republicans intend to go after impact fees everywhere with one-size-fits-all policies. That would be a serious mistake indeed, given the variety of needs in North Carolina’s widely different communities, with some being big urban areas where such fees are crucial to keeping up with growth.