Impact of Impact Fees Being Weighed for CS Development

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Growth in the city of College Station has been at a three-to-four percent rate over the past couple of years. It's a strong sign of a flourishing city, but the management of that growth is weighing on the city council and staff.

One option on the table has College Station home builders a bit on edge.

With the number of neighborhoods continuing to grow in College Station, so grow the streets and the pipes. How to pay for and manage it is another story. That's why the city paid a consultant to examine the best ways to effectively and efficiently grow. One idea, and one that's caught the ears of elected officials and staff is that of impact fees.

"Impact fees, specifically, are those that the new user pays to cover the cost of the additional capacity for that," said Lance Simms, the assistant director of Planning and Development for College Station.

So the streets and the pipes would be paid for, in part, by the home and business builders. An alternative to a city-wide property tax raise, impact fees would put on the builders, and that possibility has the builders concerned.

"It's going to turn a customer away," said Randall Pitcock, a homebuilder in the Twin Cities. "It's going to impact somebody in that regard to where they're going to choose not to buy. Maybe it's a timing issue. Maybe somebody relocating to our community is going to choose to go elsewhere."

The concern for homebuilders like Pitcock lies with the possibility of a city-mandated raise in the prices of his homes. It would not be him paying out of his own pocket, but rather, the consumer.

"It's a direct cost pass-through, and it definitely affects our market," Pitcock said.

"That's something that we need to take into consideration," Simms said of the concern. "We need to look at this holistically, and again, impact fees are just one of many routes or tools that we have available to us."

In the end, neither side wants to see growth stunted. What routes they take could be determined shortly after June's runoff elections.

In addition to looking into impact fees, city staff has been looking over annexation options in the city's extra-territorial jurisdiction. That, officials say, would allow the city to have more control of property outside the city, which is cheaper.