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.
Dorman said the city went above the law’s requirements and also notified other affected departments, including the Okaloosa County School District and the state Department of Transportation of its intent. “We only got one letter and it was from DOT and they said, ‘No comments,’” Dorman said. “That’s a good letter to get.”
When and ordinance amending the city’s comprehensive plan to eliminate concurrency fees was brought up at the council meeting Monday evening, Councilman Charles Baugh Jr. said its approval “would open other doors to look at other ways for the city of Crestview to encourage more industry in the city.”
“Everything the city council is about to do is in the best economic interest of the community,” Dorman said. “It is my personal opinion, and that of most professional economists, that by eliminating this (fee) that the opportunities for the city of Crestview for economic growth and expansion will be magnified.”
Baugh then moved to adopt the ordinance, and with a second by Councilman Thomas Gordon, the vote was unanimous. Dorman asked if a few moments could be taken to sign the ordinance into law so he could send copies to Tallahassee making it official. By statute, the city had 31 days to approve the measure after receiving state approval.
“We’re a step ahead there,” Council President Ben Iannucci III said, indicating City Clerk Betsy Roy already had the documents ready to go.
“These are time sensitive,” Dorman said. “My plan is these will go off to Tallahassee tomorrow. The quicker we get it there, the quicker it becomes effective.”