The way the city evaluates traffic impacts of new developments is set to change after the Oak Harbor City Council replaced a chapter in its code last week.
With the updated ordinance, the method to determine if commercial or single-family housing developers are responsible for making intersection improvements will also change.
Senior Planner Dennis Lefevre explained to the council last Wednesday the new “concurrency” chapter of code would evaluate impacts from a “more holistic point of view.”
Before, new developments were looked at individually by the number of trips they were expected to create and if nearby intersections could accommodate those.
If not, the developer had to submit a plan to improve the “level of service” of the intersection.
The new method focuses on citywide capacity instead of individual intersections, Lefevre said.
The projected demand created would be subtracted from the whole system, but there would still be requirements the projects provide safe access.
“This would make things a lot simpler for us,” he said.
He said under the previous system, the last development built in an area would often shoulder an unfair burden when it came to the cost of intersection improvements.
Even though other developments added traffic to an area, it would usually be most recent one built that would be responsible for bringing intersections up to an appropriate level of service.
Developers will still pay impact fees based on a traffic impact analysis, Development Services Director Steve Powers said.
A spreadsheet, or “concurrency calculator,” would be used to determine the city’s capacity, and the projected “trip generation” by the new project would be subtracted from the whole.
The developer wouldn’t be responsible for capital improvements unless there is a safe access issue or there isn’t enough capacity in the city.
The need to improve individual intersections would be evaluated during transportation plan updates.