City Stuck On LUDS

January 30, 2006
Print
Text Size:
A A

GRAND RAPIDS — City commissioners must be hoping that the third time is a charm, as next week they will try — for the third time — to set a fee schedule for the city’s new Land Use and Development Services program.

Although city staff presented commissioners last week with fees that were 14 percent to 94 percent lower than the schedule they gave the board last month, commissioners told staff to go back to the drawing board again and come up with new numbers.

“Everybody was not at the table on this,” said 2nd Ward Commissioner Rick Tormala.

Assistant City Manager Victor Vasquez, though, told commissioners that large and small development firms and neighborhood associations were involved in the fee process. Mayor George Heartwell said Rockford Development was the only firm that commented about the schedule and, at a public hearing held by the city, the region’s largest developer said it was fine.

The city’s Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals approved the most recent series of fees a few weeks ago.

“The revised proposal in front of you effectively reduces the fees that came before you,” Vasquez said to the commission.

But opposition to the fee schedule is coming from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors. Commissioners Roy Schmidt, Robert Dean, James White and Tormala felt that city staff should meet with both groups in order to reach a compromise by Feb. 7, when the schedule will be on the agenda again.

The fee dispute centers on who should pay for what and how it should be charged.

The chamber and Realtors feel developers should pay for half of the city’s labor costs linked with LUDS but for none of the support costs, and that a flat fee of $75 should be imposed without regard to the service needed or how many acres a development would be built on. Developers would collectively pay $170,000 in the first year, according to GRAR’s figures. That fee would rise to $100 in the second year and $193,000 overall.

City staff wants developers to pay for half of labor and half of support costs, and wants to install a sliding scale that charges larger developments more than smaller ones with different fees for different services. Developers would pay $420,000 in the first year under this schedule, which would be half of the LUDS budget for next year.

A GRAR spokeswoman said her group was never told that the city wanted developers to also pay for half of the program’s support costs.

Vasquez said developers only pay 10 percent of the cost to process developments today, as taxpayers are currently picking up the tab for the remaining 90 percent.

The current cost for the city to deliver services is $655,000 a year and that would rise to $840,000 under the new effort set to start in the next fiscal year. The additional $185,000 would pay for two new full-time inspectors, a contract with a landscape architect, health care premiums, and other operational costs.

City commissioners approved the LUDS program early last month, and saw it as an effort to improve services to developers and to lessen the time it takes to get applications filed and permits approved.

But Heartwell said one factor missing from last week’s discussion was how the city could improve services to developers. He felt that getting applications and permits through the system more efficiently was how the city would best help developers. But the mayor added that the city needs more money to hire additional staff in order to upgrade its service.

Heartwell also said it wasn’t right that taxpayers have been subsidizing 90 percent of the cost to process applications and permits and to make inspections.    

Lower LUDS Not Good Enough

GRAND RAPIDS — Even though city commissioners rejected the latest version of the application fees associated with the city’s new Land Use and Development Services program last week, the schedule was reduced from the one proposed last month.

Soil Erosion Sediment Control application fees fell by as much as 80 percent and the SESC permit fee fell by 35 percent. Final stormwater application fees were lowered by 14 to 94 percent and compliance costs were dropped by 35 percent to 63 percent.

City commissioners are expected to review a new fee schedule next week.

Here is a comparison of most of the fees that city staff proposed in December and again last week, with the percent change between the two.


Application

December Fees

January Fees

Percent Change


SESC APPLICATION:

Smaller than 1 acre, with professional services

$150

$30

-80%

Smaller than 1 acre, w/o professional services

dna

$160

dna

1 to 1.99 acres

$250

$160

-36%

2 to 4.99 acres

$350

$220

-59%

5 to 9.99 acres

$450

$290

-36%

10 acres and larger

$500

$320

-36%


STORMWATER APPLICATION:

Smaller than 1 acre, with professional services

$500

$30

-94%

Smaller than 1 acre, w/o Professional services

dna

$480

dna

1 to 1.99 acres

$750

$480

-36%

2 to 4.99 acres

$1,000

$640

-36%

5 to 9.99 acres

$1,200

$960

-20%

10 acres and larger

$1,500

$1,290

-14%


DEVELOPMENT COMPLIANCE:

Plat

$1,000

$640

-36%

Planned Unit Development

$300

$390

-35%

Site Plan Review

$350

$220

-37%

Permitted With Approval

$350

$220

-37%

Planned Redevelopment District

$600

$390

-35%

All others

$350

$130

-64%

Source: City of Grand Rapids, January 2006

Recent Articles by David Czurak

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus