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Road impact fees for commercial development nixed in Forsyth

FORSYTH COUNTY — The group reviewing Forsyth County’s impact fee structure reconvened last week and decided to drop — for the time being — one of its recommendations.

The impact fee advisory committee voted 8-0 to remove road impact fees for commercial developments, instead recommending the county commission revisit the possible levy in two to three years. Its suggestion to add them for residential developments stands.

Disbanded earlier this fall after making its recommendations, the panel was asked by the commission to meet again since no commercial developers had reportedly been involved in the talks.

Impact fees are charges for new development that help cover the cost of increased demand on roads, infrastructure, services and amenities. The county does not currently collect a road impact fee.

During the meeting, several people involved with retail development addressed the group, including David Seago of the Development Authority of Forsyth County.

According to Seago, the authority typically handles bigger projects, which officials don’t want to see scared away.

“Adding impact fees to commercial development is really the opposite of what the development authority thinks we should be doing,” Seago said. “What we don’t want to become is an easy elimination target. We don’t always know why the big project goes away … but we don’t want to be the easy one.”

The impact fee committee is not planning to meet again, and the matter will next go before the commission at its Nov. 19 meeting.

At a previous commission work session, Clancy Mullen of Duncan Associates, a firm the county hired last year to study impact fees, told officials a road levy could generate $135 million over five years.

Under that plan, commercial developers would pay a larger amount of the new fees than residential developers.

Forsyth currently levies impact fees for parks, libraries and fire/E911. They are collected on a countywide basis for parks and E-911 and on a north-south split for libraries and fire services.

Other changes recommended recently by the committee 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.

The group also recommended changing the methodology behind the fees from residential property so by changing single-family detached and multi-family from a per foot basis to per unit, and for mobile home parks to go from per foot to per space.

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