After several months of meetings and discussion, Forsyth County has approved a new impact fee structure for new developments in the county.
On Thursday, April 7, commissioners voted 4-0, with Chairman Pete Amos recused due to a financial contract that may be affected, to adopt the new fee structure, which will not include fees for roads paid by non-residential development.
“The Board of Commissioners, based upon the feedback provided to me, is concerned that we have a need in this county for additional [non-residential] development,” County Attorney Ken Jarrard said.
“The Board of Commissioners believes that imposing road impact fees on [non-residential] development acts as a disincentive to such development.”
Impact fees are charges for new building that help cover the cost of increased demand on roads, infrastructure, services and amenities.
The process of updating the rules began with a study commissioned by the county from Clancy Mullen of Duncan Associates. Proposals then went through an advisory committee.
The proposed fees, including non-residential road fees, were approved by the committee on a 5-3 vote, though one member has since said that he did not realize at the time non-residential fees were part of that motion.
The committee served as a recommending body to the commissioners, who ended up adopting everything except the non-residential road fees.
Road impact fees were controversial in the process, especially in regards to non-residential impact fees. Opponents of those maintain that the fees would make the county less appealing to future businesses.
During Thursday’s meeting, residents spoke both in favor and against the fees.
Discussion on road impact fees came back into focus after the approval of House Bill 170, which passed the Georgia legislature last year and guarantees state funds for some local roads projects. When calculating impact fees, both past and anticipated future funding needs are considered.
Under the new structure, residential impact fees are assessed by a per dwelling basis for homes, townhouses and apartments and by space for mobile home parks.
The fees to build a new home will be $3,641 per unit, which will go toward county services – $1,968 for roads, $1,015 for parks, $148 for libraries and $510 for public safety.
For townhouses or apartments, the total is now $2,310, including $1,247 for roads, $645 for parks, $94 for libraries and $324 for public safety.
Impact fees to build a mobile home park are $591 for roads, $1,163 for parks, $170 for library and $584 for public safety – a total of $2,508.
For non-residential categories, fees are assessed on a per 1,000-square-foot basis and will only go toward public safety. These charges are $532 for retail/commercial buildings, $227 for offices, $100 for industrial/warehouses and $227 for public/institutional buildings.
The burden of road impact fees not being added to the pay structure for new non-residential development will fall on the county, as it will need to make up the funding from other sources.
Had they been approved, that fee would have been $2,536 for retail/commercial, $2,125 for office, $685 for industrial/warehouse and $1,336 for public/institutional – a $5,596 total difference per 1,000 square feet of new non-residential development.
Other impact fees cannot be raised to make up the disparity.
Before the adoption of the new fees, residential impact fees were 34 cents per square foot of heated area for parks and recreation, 6 cents for library, 9 cents for fire and 2 cents for E-911.
Non-residential properties were charged only for public safety, which is the combination of E-911 and fire, with retail/commercial paying 22 cents per square foot of floor area, office/business paying 9 cents and industrial paying 5 cents.
As part of the motion that passed, the commission will discuss the four non-residential categories at their work session on Tuesday.
Also as part of the motion, a new impact fee study can be commissioned within 60 days of the completion of the county’s upcoming comprehensive transportation plan update. The commission will also discuss impact fees for parks and recreation during the work session.
The decision is the product of a new issue that has arisen with funding for county parks and recreation, which has received significant funding in recent years from the shrinking parks, recreation and green space bond that was originally approved by voters in 2008.