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Cary Aims to Make Developers Pay

Posted February 15, 2008

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— The Cary Town Council considered increasing impact fees to make developers, rather than taxpayers, fund infrastructure costs, Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said Thursday night.

Council members scrapped a recommendation in a recent study to raise water impact fees by 43 percent, sewer fees by 75 percent and an irrigation-meter fee by more than 300 percent.

Instead, members agreed to consider raising development fees for water, sewer, transportation and irrigation meters by 75 percent of the maximum increase recommended by the study.

"If that cost is not paid for by developers that are creating the cost, then that cost is picked up by our taxpayers," Weinbrecht said. "What we're doing by raising the impact fees is trying to take the burden off our taxpayers."

The total impact fees for a 2,500-square foot single-family home would increase from $5,940 to $8,965. The largest increase would be in the irrigation meter fee, which would go from $374 to $1,161. Water fees would go up by 7 percent, sewer by 31 percent and transportation by 47 percent.

Impact fees for a 150,000-square-foot office building would go up by nearly $100,000 to $492,225 for a 29 percent increase.

Developers, though, warned that increases on that scale could stunt growth in Cary.

"People need to make the numbers work for their business," Suzanne M. Harris, government affairs vice president of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County, said. "And if their fees get to a point where they're too high, then decisions will be made to build elsewhere.

“Apex and surrounding municipalities to Cary are becoming very popular places to live as well. They’re not necessarily the small towns they were, either, so they’re very attractive for builders and developers," Harris continued.

Statistics released by the town and the association differed on whether Cary's current impact fees are the second- or fourth-highest in the county. Both agreed that Holly Springs has the highest impact fees and Fuquay-Varina, the lowest.

Town officials said the proposal being considered would make Cary's impact fees the third-highest in Wake County, behind Holly Springs and Morrisville.

Town officials acknowledged that Cary's rate of growth has a direct correlation to increases and decreases to its impact fees. Growth decreased when fees went up in 2002, but increased in 2004 when impact fees dropped to 1999 levels, officials said.

Weinbrecht said he desires to use that correlation to encourage growth in some areas of town and discourage it in others. He upset incumbent Mayor Ernie McAllister in October 2007 polls by campaigning for "balanced growth."

The proposal to manage growth through impact-fee zones appealed to some downtown business owners. Under Weinbrecht's plan, downtown would be spared impact-fee increases.

"There are a lot of disadvantages to trying to operate in a congested area like we're in," said Paul Ashworth, owner of Ashworth Drug Store, which has been in downtown Cary for more than 50 years.

"I think it is fair to give us a break at least on the impact fees, and let us be able to compete with some of the other newer, larger retail centers in the community," Ashworth continued.

The Town Council will again take up raising impact fees at its next meeting on Feb. 28. Any changes to impact fees would likely not take place until July, Weinbrecht said.

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  • ncwebguy Feb 15, 2008

    Cary had an election last November and the voters supported the candidtates that refuses to give handouts to developers by charging them less in impact fees than the impact their devlopments create.

    Any growth paid for solely by property taxes is a HANDOUT. Period. If a city charges a premium above maintaining the status quo to pay for new development, they are extorting existing citizens.

    Property taxes are for police, fire, EMS, parks, trash collection, road maintance, schools, etc. Water/sewer is a fee comprised of a base fee + consumption. To say "growth pays for itself" is a lie because it either pays for its infrastructure or pays for services, but not both.

    I am glad the citizens of Cary voted to stop lining devloper's pockets. In Raleigh, the mayor is charging for the true cost of providing water. They should have been doing that all along, but the "don't tax, but still spend" conservative councils of the past kept revenue lower than costs.

  • Hardrock757 Feb 15, 2008

    I think people should be welcoming of developers!!! They are the ones who go and create new homes for families and businesses for people. It is ridiculous that a city would not want more development. The problems that many people see with new people moving into an area is the result of poor government. The city of Cary and the state of NC should do much more with the money they already get from tax payers in creating more roads!

  • nisa-pizza Feb 15, 2008

    We don't have enough water PARTLY because of the influx of newcomers to the area

    No, no one wants development to stop because it does make everything stagnant but when you are in CRISIS MODE as we are in now, then common sense has to come into play.

    When you keep building and developing when you simply don't have enough water to keep everyone alive who are living there, then you've crossed into the realm stupidity.

    Cary will more than likely share water w/ Raleigh and Durham if they can find a way. Lives are more important than development in my opinion. DEVELOP WHEN WE'RE NOT IN CRISIS.

    The theory of businesses closing and people losing their jobs is going to happen alot sooner than we'd like because of the LACK OF WATER not the impact fees. Slow the growth with impact fees to make developers think twice, until this situation improves. We'll be wishing we had when Cary's water is being shared with Raleigh and Durham. No more 365 days of water for Cary.

  • Marc3939 Feb 15, 2008

    Sad truth is you are paying and just don't realize it. - whatelseisnew

    Non-sense. I own a home and don't need to "keep up with the Joneses". And if for some reason I increase the size of my family, personal property, etc, I will buy an existing home with character unlike the mcmansions.

    The builders can adapt, lower their profit margin, or move on to another community that wants them. The have reaped hugh profits for decades. The gravy train is over.

    The kind of growth Raleigh has experienced in the last 20 years is NOT necessary to maintain a healthy economy. You're in denial if you believe that. Do some research and you'll find PLENTY of cities that have limited growth policies that have stables economies.

  • nisa-pizza Feb 15, 2008

    "And if their fees get to a point where they're too high, then decisions will be made to build elsewhere."

    ...........And.

    As soon as you purchase and start to develop property you are impacting the area...pay for it or buy an existing property.
    Common sense.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Feb 15, 2008

    I'll say it again....Many of you do NOT understand simple economics. If the area quits growing, there are a LOT of you that will LOSE your jobs. It's NOT just the developers. It's the coffee shop workers, it's the Dentist's it's plant nursery owner's, it's the bagel shops....it's ALL of you!

  • Adelinthe Feb 15, 2008

    Leonardo - "The city doesn't FORCE you to give up existing wells."

    Better check your laws again. Once city lines go through, you get a bill to connect. You can either pay the bill and do so, or they will assess your property for the bill anyway CAUSE you're forced to connect if you sell.

    Our family has lived on rural land with a well and septic for six generations. My niece, now raising the sixth generation in the home, just got a bill for $12,000 for something she doesn't even need...and she's trying to feed four kids. Go figure!!!

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Adelinthe Feb 15, 2008

    "Yep same old attitude. Increase the fees or taxes is fine with me so long as I am not paying. Sad truth is you are paying and just don't realize it."

    NOPE!!!

    I live in a rural area well away from good ol' Cary, and have a well and septic.

    City-ways aren't my way of life. ;o)

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • thinkbee Feb 15, 2008

    "Developers, though, warned that increases on that scale could stunt growth in Cary" EXACTLY.... HELLO - that's exactly what needs to happen! There's not enough water or schools and growth continues - how stupid is that! Go build in West Virginia!

  • davidgnews Feb 15, 2008

    'Aims' is the operative keyword here.

    Regardless, developers should either own up to their responsibility or be forced - how many end up being from out of state, BTW?

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