Subdivision Ordinance Fees: STA 2009-002




Public hearing to consider amending fees associated with applications and reviews required by the Subdivision Ordinance




Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Graham,  Fritz, and McCulley. 






May 13, 2009


ACTION:     X          INFORMATION:   



  ACTION:              INFORMATION:   











At the December 5, 2007 Board meeting, staff presented a Community Development Fee Study and a recommendation for a fee policy. Subsequent to that study, staff proposed changes to the fees in the Building Regulations and Water Protection Ordinances, which were approved by the Board in August 2008.   Staff then presented a recommendation for Subdivision Ordinance fees to the Board in September 2008.  The Board directed staff to present that recommendation to the Planning Commission and the Planning Commission to return a recommendation to the Board. The Planning Commission held worksessions in October 2008 and January 2009.   The Planning Commission then held a public hearing on the text amendment in March 2009, resulting in a recommendation to the Board for fees set at 75% of cost recovery, except for family subdivisions where the fee was recommended at 50% of cost recovery. The Board held a worksession on April 8th and directed staff to advertise fees at 50% of cost recovery.              


Staff has assumed it was not necessary to attach all of the previous executive summaries to this report.  For those interested in those materials, they are attached to the April 8th Executive Summary available on-line.



Goal 3:  Develop a comprehensive funding strategy/plan to address the County's growing needs.



The purpose of this public hearing is to consider adopting an ordinance to amend the fees in the Subdivision Ordinance (Attachment A).  This text amendment has undergone an extensive review process.   Staff has approached the fee recommendation based on earlier guidance from the Board that focuses on balancing two considerations. Namely, fees should recover the County’s cost for assuring compliance with ordinance requirements while maintaining reasonable consistency with the fees in other localities.  


With respect to the Subdivision Ordinance fees, the main point of consideration has been how much of the review cost should be the responsibility of the applicant and how much should be the responsibility of the County.   Staff has recommended a 50% cost recovery recognizing much of the cost is related to providing opportunities for public participation rather than the technical review of ordinance requirements.  Basically, staff is assuming the cost of public participation should remain with the County while the applicant is responsible for the cost of technical review by County staff.   Staff notes that this approach provides reasonable consistency with fees in other localities, although there is a wide range in fees among the localities. 


Next, in finalizing this text amendment for adoption, staff has gone back and reviewed all of the fees as well as considered comments and concerns that have been raised.   Based on that analysis, staff is recommending two changes to the advertised fees that reduce certain fees. This is further detailed in Attachment B and summarized below:



1.                   Under subsection 14-203(C), staff recognized that lumping a boundary line adjustment with other reviews has skewed that fee.  A boundary line adjustment is a simpler review than that required for a subdivision that creates an additional lot.  As a result of this analysis, staff recommends splitting subsection 14-203(C) into two separate fees and recommends a fee of $200 for a boundary line adjustment.  This change is incorporated into Attachment A.


2.                   Under subsection 14-203(D), staff recognized that it reviews easement plats that are occasionally required with a site plan and concluded that fees for such easement plats should be separated from the fees for other easement plats.  Staff recommends adding a third fee class to subsection 14-203(D) for easement plats required with a site plan and recommends a fee of $200 for that plat.  This change is incorporated into Attachment A.


3.                   Staff notes a question was raised with respect to post-construction easement plats.   As a result of field changes during construction, it is often necessary for developers to obtain easements before roads can be accepted into the state-maintained system.  Those easements are often across lots that that have already been sold.  For convenience in dealing with the new property owners, the developer will often create a separate easement plat for each lot rather than have one easement plat for the entire easement. When multiple plats are submitted together for review, staff has historically treated them as a single easement and charged a single fee.  The proposed text amendment has been revised in Attachment A to expressly codify this longstanding practice.


Finally, staff notes there is a need to establish an effective date for the new and amended fees.  Staff normally recommends a minimum of 30 days from adoption to give time to publish notices and assure that applicants are aware of the change.  In this case, staff recommends the effective date be established as July 1, 2009.   Setting the effective date at the start of the fiscal year will simplify administration of the fees.   




The County currently collects approximately $145,000 from subdivision fees in an average year.  Under the attached draft text amendment, the revenue would increase to approximately $476,000, increasing County revenues by approximately $331,000 in an average year.  Due to the building downturn, staff anticipates applications will be one-half of an average year for FY 09 -10.  Assuming the text amendment is adopted with the recommended July 1 effective date, staff anticipates a revenue increase of approximately $90,000 in FY 09 -10.  


No significant drop in the number of applications is anticipated as a result of the new and increased fees.   While the increase is significant in many circumstances, the fees remain very small in comparison to the value of the subdivided property.    




After conducting a public hearing, staff recommends that the Board adopt STA 2009-002 with an effective date of July 1, 2009.  




Attachment A – STA 2009-002

Attachment B – Staff memo detailing recommended fee changes

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