APEX — Downtown merchants inApexare telling local leaders that impact fees are driving away new business. They want town commissioners to cut the costly fees so more small shops and restaurants will be tempted to trade downtown.
Michael Trull wants to renovate the old Thelma's dress shop and bring in a restaurant and specialty shop. However, he says the town requires $24,000 upfront just for the restaurant.
"With the town charging impact fees, it's an immediate roadblock for bringing in, in this case, a restaurant," Trull says.
Apex Town Manager Bill Sutton says the fees help balance growth and services. He believes all new businesses should be treated equally.
"They have to be there if you're going to continue to grow," Sutton says. "The problem is a legal problem. How do you charge less for a restaurant downtown than you do for a restaurant in a shopping center?"
Merchants like Carole Kish argue the fees will eventually chip away at the downtown charm because most new, small, unique businesses cannot afford the cost.
"Keep some of the old along with the new," Kish says. "Don't destroy the old. I think it's important to keep part of our heritage."
Town commissioners listened to merchants' concerns at a public meeting Tuesday night.
The impact fee proposal has been passed on to the planning department and finance committee for further study.