Hearing moves city closer to adopting impact fee ordinance
Port Aransas took the first step toward requiring developers to share in the cost of keeping major streets in good condition on Thursday, Dec. 20, when city council members approved a capital improvements plan and a land use assumption plan for the city.
The step points the city toward adopting roadway impact fees, a system whereby developers are assessed money if their development will cause more traffic on one of the streets listed in the capital improvements plan.
Under the capital improvement plan adopted Dec. 20, those streets are State Hwy. 361 between Avenue G and Beach Access Road 1A, South 11th Street between Avenue G and Beach Access Road 1A, and a proposed new beach access road south of existing Beach Access Road 1.
It's a concept the council has been looking at for some time. The planning and zoning commission approved impact fees earlier this year and passed it on to the council.
Thursday marked the first public hearing on the matter as well as the council's approval of the capital improvements plan and the land use assumption plan.
Planners Dan Sefko and Eddie Haas, of the Dallas firm of Duncan Sefko, who are consultants on the project, were at the meeting to help the council across the rough spots.
"Land use assumption numbers help drive computation of charges," Haas reminded council members. The land use assumption plan sets projections of how land will be used in the future. That, in turn, lets planners project what roads will be needed.
Impact fees are based on vehicle miles - the number of miles traveled by vehicles on the streets that are part of the plan. The more vehicle miles a development is expected to generate, the higher the impact fee will be.
Impact fees are to be paid when the developer picks up the building permit for the project.
Luke Dailey, the only person to speak to the council at the public hearing, wanted to know, among other things, why drainage impact fees weren't considered, why right of way fees weren't considered and how often developers did their own studies.
"Real estate here is so high the people have to move out of town because they can't afford to live here," she said.
Hass said drainage fees can be considered for impact fees, but that the only topic before the council at the moment was roadway impact fees.
Developers have done their own traffic studies, he said, but the incidence is relatively rare.
Duncan Sefko divided Port Aransas into three areas for impact fee purposes. The first section covers most of the city, from the ship channel to the proposed route of a new beach access road on Mustang Island. South of that access road is section 2, and Harbor Island comprises section 3.
Noting that no impact fees are projected from Harbor Island, some council members wanted to know why.
"There's no fee there now because there are no projects," Sefko said. "But if something was proposed you can revamp the plan," he added.
He noted that the city must stay abreast of development plans because the capital improvement plan can't be changed at the last minute.
Once a developer has platted the site, he has a year to build before he's subject to impact fees, Sefko said. However, if the city adjusts its capital improvement plan before the developer plats the property, the development is subject to impact fees.
The proposed impact fees divide developments into four categories: residential, retail, commercial and industrial. Residential developments are based on the number of dwelling units, but the other divisions are based on the number of square feet per store or office and the number of units.
Each of those will increase traffic by amounts figured by the Institute of Traffic Engineers, and that's how the impact fees are computed.
Sefko reminded the council that the fees have to be spent in the area where the development will occur, and he said impact fees have to be imposed according to a strict formula under state law. Among other things, that law requires a review of the capital improvements plan at least every five years.
However, if a development is proposed that's not included in the current plan, the council can amend the existing plan, he said.
The city staff estimates it will be another three months before impact fees become effective.