P.C. seeks to make growth pay for itself

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Plain City officials are considering implementing impact fees to offset the effects of new development.
During Wednesday’s council work session, officials heard representatives from Strand Associates, a Columbus-based engineering firm.
Village Administrator Nathan Cahall said a 1992 Ohio Supreme Court decision in Beavercreek allows villages and cities to create what he called “impact fees.”
He said they are essentially fees imposed on developers that ensure new development considers and pays for its effects on area infrastructure.
“As best as possible, this provides a fair and equitable playing field for all developers because it evaluates them based on their impact,” Cahall explained.
He emphasized the fact that funding generated by impact fees has to be earmarked for specific improvements. It can only go toward capital expenditures, not operational costs.
Plain City Council added consideration of impact fees to its list of 2019 goals, Cahall said, and commissioned Strand Associates to evaluate the possibility in July 2019.
He said the consultants evaluated the potential for impact fees in several areas, including roadway networks, water distribution and treatment and storm and sanitary sewers.
Cahall said Strand Associates’ evaluation recommends the future imposition of impact fees regarding roadways, as well as sanitary sewer costs.
The firm didn’t recommend fees for water distribution, Cahall said, as the Village’s infrastructure is in “pretty good shape” and will need only incremental expansion.
James Hise of Strand Associates echoed the sentiment, adding the water system has no additional need at the time.
Hise said the sanitary sewer fee recommendations were not included in the report because the Village is in the process of sewer plant expansion.
For that reason, the recommendations include a proposed roadway impact fee but left sanitary sewer costs up for deliberation.
Cahall said about half of the sewer costs, regardless of how much the village grows, will be needed just to keep the plant operational and meet Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements.
He estimated sewer costs will be approximately $2.5 million.
To determine proposed roadway impact fees, Hise said consultants evaluated new traffic counts from 10 intersections, along with information from traffic impact studies for two additional intersections.
He said all operated at an “acceptable level of service” that met Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) standards.
However, the consultants found six corridors that “failed” within the Plain City boundaries established by the Village’s comprehensive plan.
Hise said consultants created a formula using construction costs and total roadway trips to recommend a fee of $91.55 “per trip.”
Using that guideline, Hise said they were able to develop a fee associated with different development types including office, shopping and residential development.
Cahall said he imagines any developers who have already started the application process will not be subject to impact fees if they are implemented in the future, although he said he needs to confirm this with Village Solicitor Paul Lafayette.
Ultimately, he said the impact fees aim to evaluate how development is “impacting the system as a whole” and ensure “everyone is contributing their fair share.”
“They’re really so everyone is incrementally coming in, everyone is equally pitching in,” Cahall said.
He said council will continue to consider the proposed fees at the next work session, with the goal of agreeing on a dollar amount for sanitary sewer impact fees.



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