By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Panel supports impact fee for roads in Forsyth County

FORSYTH COUNTY — A local group tasked with examining the county’s impact fee structure has disbanded after making its final recommendations to the county commission.

The Forsyth County Impact Fee Advisory Committee voted Thursday night to suggest the addition of a road fee and change the methodology for collecting the other charges.

Impact fees are charges for new development that help cover the cost of increased demand on roads, infrastructure, services and amenities.

As is stands, the county collects impact fees for parks, libraries and fire/E911.

The recommendations will next go to the county commission for further discussion and consideration.

For the proposed road impact fees, the committee supported implementing them over a three-year period. Fifty percent of the total of those fees would be collected the first year, 75 percent the second year and the full total the third year after the fees are approved.

The implementation was the only portion of the changes on which the panel did not agree unanimously. The recommendation passed by 5-3 majority, with members Claudia Castro, Greg Dolezal and Liz Shaw opposed.

“I’ve worked in government for 25 years,” said Dave Gruen, the county’s chief financial officer and chairman of the group. “Any time there’s a tax change, a fee change or anything else, it’s a tough nut to crack. To go from something like nothing to a big charge is difficult.”

The three in opposition had previously made a motion to implement the fees over two years, with the first year being 75 percent of the total impact fees and the full amount the second year.

That proposal was voted down by Gruen and fellow members Chris Cole, Jeff Hoza, Lamar Wakefield and Rusty Whitlow.

Among suggested other changes are: combining fire and E-911 levies into a public safety fee; changing library and public safety fees from a north-south divide to countywide; and using both active and passive parks as part of park impact fees level of service.

Other recommendations are for the county commission to contact Cumming’s government about a possible agreement to collect impact fees within the city and giving the county the ability to abate fees for certain properties deemed “important to the community.”

The committee also supported changes to the basis for collecting fees for residential properties. It recommended that single-family detached and multi-family shift from per foot to per unit, and for mobile home parks to go from per foot to per space.

For commercial properties, the only proposed change is renaming office/business to office/institutional. The other three residential categories are retail/commercial, industrial/warehouse and public/institutional.

Commercial property impact fees would still be assessed on a per 1,000-square-feet basis.

For the first year of road impact fees, single-family detached would collect $5,317 in impact fees, with $3,372 for multi-family and $3,011 for mobile homes.

Under the first year, the fees could collect $5,228 for retail/commercial, $4,163 for office, $1,369 for industrial warehouse and $2,700 for public/institutional.