This town may soon have a more sensible way for developers to pay for more kinds of transportation improvements in cases where they would interfere with future town projects.
Currently, the town offers an option called fee-in-lieu that gives developers a chance to pay in full for site-specific improvements at current market costs during the building permit process without actually having to construct the features. The option, however, is now only open to street and sidewalk improvements.
“Since we updated the Mulitmodal Transportation Plan and now have a Greenway Master Plan, we’re updating (the ordinance) so we can accept the fee-in-lieu for more than just streets and sidewalks,” said senior planner Julie Spriggs.
The town had a public hearing on the staff-proposed amendment Sept. 12 and the planning board recommended approval with one condition.
The planning board wants language included that outlines the process for obtaining cost estimates for the fee-in-lieu payment. It also supports town staff’s proposal that the rules for obtaining the estimates be included in the procedure manual rather than the ordinance itself, giving staff more leeway if changes are needed.
The Town Board is expected to consider the amendment Monday, Oct. 3.
All things transportation
The proposed change mostly involves replacing instances of “streets and sidewalk” with “multi-modal transportation,” which it clarifies “includes but is not limited to streets, sidewalks, roadways, and greenways.”
The town approved using the fee-in-lieu method for street and sidewalk improvements in July, 2015, with the expectation it would phase out parts of the bond system used to pay for site-specific development.
Its other advantage, beyond the potential savings for developers, is that it prevents developers from installing required improvements that would conflict with future transportation projects.
An example Spriggs gave was the second phase of the Taryn Meadows neighborhood, which is required by the town’s Greenway Master Plan to construct a greenway. But greenways aren’t currently included as an improvement for which the fee payment is an option for developers, leaving the developer in a gray area until a decision is made on this amendment.
“If they put in a greenway, when we have to come through and put in sewer enhancements, then we’d have to rip out the pathway they just installed to make the improvements,” Spriggs said.
A temporary fix
Spriggs said there hasn’t been a case where a developer chose to make the improvements themselves when the fee-in-lieu was an option.
“We give them the option, which they normally go for,” Spriggs said. “But we’ve had to tell some people they have to put the improvement in because we don’t have a fee-in-lieu for them.”
The Unified Development Ordinance the town is in the process of drafting is expected to reflect this kind of dovetailing of improvement requirements for new development and upcoming town projects. But the UDO is at least 18 months from adoption, Spriggs said, giving reason to amend the ordinance for the time being.
“Once we have the UDO in place, we will have updates to the entire code, but we don’t want development to stop between now and when the UDO is passed,” Spriggs said.