COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Zoning Ordinance Fees

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Worksession to discuss amending Zoning Ordinance Fees

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Graham, Cilimberg, Fritz, Ms. McCulley

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

AGENDA DATE:  August 5, 2009

 

ACTION:     X          INFORMATION:   

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:              INFORMATION:   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

BACKGROUND:

The purpose of this work session is to receive Board direction on staff recommended changes to Zoning Ordinance (“Ordinance”) fees.   At the December 5, 2007 Board meeting, staff presented a Community Development Fee Study and a recommendation for a fee policy. (Attachment A)  Given the limited amount of time for discussion and the complexity of the topic, it was not possible for the Board to give specific direction on amending the fees at that time.  To provide the opportunity for adequate consideration of the fees, staff divided this task into several ordinances.  The fees imposed under the Building Regulations and Water Protection Ordinances were amended by the Board on August 6, 2008.  The fees imposed under the Subdivision Ordinance were amended by the Board on May 13, 2009.   Today’s work session is to establish direction for the Zoning Ordinance fees, with the intent to amend that ordinance this Fall.    

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Goal 5:  Fund the County’s Future Needs.

 

DISCUSSION:

Recognizing that this is the fourth ordinance the Board has considered from the Community Development Fee Study, Attachment A is provided for background and staff will not repeat its discussions of the Study’s approach.  Staff scheduled the Zoning Ordinance fees amendment as the last ordinance to be considered due to the wide variation in how localities approach these fees and the complexity of the fee structure.  

 

Staff is including the following attachments to provide information related to the proposed Zoning Ordinance fees:

 

·                     Attachment B provides a comparison of the current fees and County costs associated with each item.  As noted, many of the fees represent a very small percentage of the costs. 

·                     Attachment C provides a comparison of staff’s proposed fees and the Fee Study’s recommendation. This also includes new fees recommended by the Fee Study or as a result of staff’s analysis.

·                     Attachment D provides a comparison of current fees, staff’s proposed fees, and fees imposed by several other localities for certain services. For consistency, staff has used the same localities as previously used when Subdivision Ordinance fees were considered.

·                     Attachment E provides an estimate of revenues generated from current fees.

·                     Attachment F provides an estimate of revenues generated from staff’s proposed fees. 

 

There are differences between staff’s and the Fee Study’s recommendations.  The differences center on five items:  1) Special Use Permits; 2) Zoning Map Amendments (rezonings); 3) Appeals; 4) Notices and Advertisements; and 5) new fees for the Architectural Review Board.  These are discussed below using Attachment C as a guide:

 

1.            Special Use Permits (SPs) - In considering SPs, staff determined it was appropriate to simplify the fee structure into two groups.  Minor SPs, which are those uses listed under a.1. and Major SPs, which are all other special permit uses listed under a.2.  In addition, staff determined it was appropriate to recognize that many SPs do not require numerous reviews.  As such, staff recommends a base fee, which includes the submission and resubmission to address comments, then a separate fee for those complex applications that require multiple resubmissions.  Attachment D shows these fees would be lower in some circumstances and higher in others.  Overall, staff believes they are comparable. 

2.            Zoning Map Amendments (ZMAs) – Staff used a similar approach for ZMAs to that for SPs, recognizing that both larger and more complex applications will involve a higher cost to the County.  Attachment D shows the very wide range of fees for these applications.   In considering these fees, staff determined that it would be more appropriate to charge on a per review basis rather than trying to estimate the average number of reviews and charging everyone the same.  Applicants who view a submittal as a negotiation point can still make a number of submittals, but the County will recover the costs of the additional reviews necessitated by this approach. 

3.            Appeals – Under the Board of Zoning Appeals and Final Site Plan fees, staff has listed fees associated with appeals.   Staff is recommending a much lower fee recovery than proposed in the Fee Study.  After consulting with the County Attorney, staff believes there may be due process issues associated with these fees and those fees should reflect the administrative cost of processing the application, but not any of the costs associated with reviewing or preparing staff reports for those applications.  Costs associated with required advertising would be handled separately as a new fee.  

4.            Notices and Advertisements – Staff has included new fees for both required notifications and advertisements. The recommended fee for notifications is identical to that recently adopted in the Subdivision Ordinance.  For required legal advertisements, staff is recommending the County recover the actual cost of advertising the application.  While those advertisement costs can vary a little, they appear to average around $200-$250 each time the advertisement runs in the newspaper. As such, if an application requires two notices for the Planning Commission public hearing and two for the Board of Supervisors public hearing, the cost of advertising is in the range of $800 to $1,000.  If an applicant chooses to request deferral after an advertisement has run, the applicant would be responsible for the additional advertising cost.     

5.            Architectural Review Board - These are also new fees proposed by staff.  With respect to revisions to a Certificate of Appropriateness or a Certificate of Appropriateness required for a building permit, staff concurs with the Fees Study’s recommended fee. With respect to Site Plan reviews, staff has simplified the fee structure to include only reviews requested by an applicant or required for a Certificate of Occupancy.  Staff’s recommended fee is a compilation of several fees in the Fee Study, but lower than the Study’s recommendation. The staff-recommended fee reflects staff’s assessment of costs for these reviews and recently proposed changes that staff believes will lower review costs.  

 

The remaining staff proposed fees listed in Attachment C are identical or comparable to those of the Fee Study and other localities.    

 

BUDGET IMPACT:

As shown in Attachment E, the County currently collects approximately $182,000 from zoning fees in an average year. As shown in Attachment F, staff anticipates the County would collect approximately $ 521,000 in an average year from the zoning fees recommended by staff, resulting in a $339,000 increase in revenue in an average year.  Assuming the recommended fees were implemented by January 2010 and the number of applications is one-half of average, staff estimates a revenue increase of $85,000 for the remainder of FY 09-10 and $170,000 for FY 10-11. 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Staff recommends that the Board direct staff to prepare a resolution of intent for the Board to consider on September 2, 2009 to initiate the process to amend the Zoning Ordinance fees as recommended by staff in Attachment C, with any other changes the Board determines appropriate.

 

ATTACHMENTS

A – December 2007 Fee Study Summary

B – Current Fees and County Cost of Services

C -  Staff Proposed Fees and Fee Study Recommendations

D -  Comparison of Fees with Other Localities

E – Estimated Current Fee Annual Revenue

F – Estimated Proposed Fee Annual Revenue

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