Concurrency fee goes unchanged

Island County will likely stay with its current transportation concurrency fee structure, the commissioners tentatively agreed at a recent staff session.

The Growth Management Act requires that the transportation impacts of development be analyzed and that the transportation system possess adequate capacity to support a development project before it is approved.

The county, in the 1990s, constructed a model that provides a quantifiable correlation between growth and the number of trips generated. Fees are imposed to finance the transportation review of developments.

Public Works Director Bill Oakes told the commissioners the fee schedule places the burden of payment on larger developers, who are charged $100 plus $10 per lot for a large plat.

Commercial developers are charged $100 plus 10 to 20 cents per square foot depending on the amount of traffic generated. A residential short plat is imposed a flat $50 fee, while single family residences are exempt.

Oakes said one commercial developer complained that the fees are too high. He recommended maintaining the present fee structure and continuing to base fees for larger developments on square footage.

The developer complained about the seeming arbitrariness of using a blanket fee structure. Oakes contended that “every square foot generates a portion of a trip.” Warehouses and retail space obviously generate different numbers, he acknowledged, but his recommendation stood.

In addition to maintaining the current system’s simplicity, he said that a refinement would add complexity and could ultimately lead to higher fees because of increased review time and inflation adjustment.

“One, the existing system is fairly simple,” Oakes said. “And two, I’d have a huge fairness complaint from all the developers that have paid the fee to date. These fees have been in place since 1998. There’s a logic tied to how we determine these fees that each square foot of a building has an associated portion of a trip generated.”

Commissioner Mac McDowell agreed with Oakes that tweaking the model could increase fees. He also felt that an overall lack of public dissension suggested contentment.

“One person complaining doesn’t warrant changing the code,” he said. “We would have to adjust all costs up to current costs.”

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