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Cary Town Council to Double Impact Fees

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CARY — Newcomers to our area have to foot much of the cost of growth. Now homebuyers in one Triangle town will have to pay even more.

The idea behind impact fees is that new home buyers pay for services they will use, like roads and utilities. In Cary, buyers are about to pay twice as much according to an agreement worked out Thursday night by the town council. This isn't the last word on impact fees. Right now, the question is not if impact fees will go up, but by how much.

Fifteen hundred new homes are built in Cary each year. The average homebuyer pays $2,300 in impact fees to support roads, parks and the water and sewer system. Thursday, the town council agreed to nearly double those fees, increasing the new buyer's share by to $4,500.

"If any development occurs, that development should pay its proportionate share of the needed infrastructure to support that development," said Cary town manager Bill Coleman.

Thursday's vote is only a temporary fix. A consultant recommended increases of up to 800% in some areas. Some developers who've seen the study say the numbers are flawed because the wrong formula was used. The town council agreed to conduct another study.

"Once we do that study, we'll accept what the new fees are with some increases per year, adjusted per year instead of doing them every eight to 10 years like we're doing now," explained Tim Smith of the Preston Development Group.

It's been nearly 10 years since impact fees were raised in Cary. Many people agree it's time for an increase. Some critics, though, fear it could force some potential home buyers off the market.

"On the upper end homes, it probably won't make a difference if someone buys it or not," said Jim Wahlbrink. "But homes in the lower price, a couple of thousand dollars could make quite a difference as to whether they can afford to buy a home or not."

Impact fees don't only affect residential home buyers. They also affect commercial and industrial properties. WRAL was told Thursday that impact fees are expected to be even higher than the nearly 100% increase levied on residential properties.

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Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
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