Officials say eliminating fees will spur economic development

Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 10:14 AM.

CRESTVIEW — With a unanimous vote, the city council on Monday eliminated public school and transportation concurrency and “proportionate fair share” from the city’s comprehensive plan. During a public hearing to discuss the ordinance held prior to the meeting, no members of the public attended to opposed the action.

City officials have been working for several months to eliminate the fees, often lumped under “impact fees,” engaging consultant Jack Dorman of Jack Dorman and Associates to direct the city’s efforts.

“In 2011, the Legislature made some significant changes to growth management laws in Florida,” Dorman said during a May meeting of the council. “Most of those changes are to our benefit.”

Dorman said the 2011 legislation encourages Florida communities to reduce impact fees “unless the local government retains transportation concurrency.” “Concurrency” is a state-mandated policy that assures that city facilities and services, such as streets and water service, are available concurrently with development.

While on the surface concurrency sounds appealing to communities such as Crestview that lack sufficient funding to build new infrastructure on their own, it has proved to have the opposite effect and discourages business development, Dorman said.

Though some transportation fees will remain to assure roadways are built and upgraded to accommodate new businesses and residential developments, “it’s just less onerous,” Dorman said after Monday’s workshop.

For Crestview to repeal the concurrency fees, the state Department of Economic Development had to approve the city’s plan, which it did in a letter Dorman received toward the end of last week.

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