By Myrna Trauntvein
Nephi City has many subdivisions and commercial/industrial developments within city limits and a change in fees needed to be adopted in order for the city to cover actual costs.
That happened on Tuesday during city council meeting when the council adopted a resolution to make it official to amend the fees charged.
“From the inception of the first subdivision and commercial lot the staff of Nephi City has spent countless hours reviewing plats and plans at minimal cost to the developers,” said Seth Atkinson, city administrator.
The cost born by the developer is much lower than the actual cost to the city for the review process, he said.
In the past three years Nephi City has seen an increasing number of building permits and developments and this construction trend is indicative of more growth coming. This means more staff time will be spent in the review process of new developments.
“In order for the city to pay for the time spent in the review process we will need to institute plan review fees that correlate to the hours spent by the staff to handle the review process,” said Atkinson.
The council has a goal in their annexation policy that new growth should pay for itself and the General Plan has an objective to “update fee structures as necessary to keep pace with current and future growth demands...”
“By instituting these fees, the city’s utilities and general fund can recoup some of the costs of development currently borne by existing taxpayers and ratepayers,” he said.
It was proposed that the city charge a deposit of $3,000, a vicinity/concept subdivision per plat of $500, a vicinity/concept subdivision per lot of $30, a preliminary plat review per plat of $1,000, a preliminary plat review per lot of $30, a final plat review per plat of $1,000, a final plat review per lot of $30, a site plan review of $500 and a site plan amended fee of $100.
The staff has researched what other communities charge for the same services. The cities considered were Spanish Fork, Heber City, Payson, Pleasant Grove, Provo, Mapleton, Santaquin, Springville, Ephraim, Richfield, American Fork and Eagle Mountain.
Richfield requires a $5,000 deposit but a portion of this is refunded if additional reviews are not needed. Some cities didn’t charge for the vicinity/concept subdivision.
Heber City did and charged $1,400 per plat for the vicinity/concept subdivision, $1,600 for preliminary plat review per plat, $2,800 for the final plat review per plot and a site plan review of $2,400 plus $215 per acre.
The staff has also examined city costs and the proposed fees are in line with the costs incurred.
“In the council’s work session it was discussed that the site plan review fee should be reduced to $500 based on the recommendation of the planning commission chair,” said Atkinson. “Many site plans do not require a significant amount of review time and should be more on par with the vicinity plan review.”
There was one change proposed, said Atkinson, that had been proposed. That was that the city should charge $100 for a site plan review for a shed or metal building that was not going to use utilities. He said that $500 was too much for the work that would require of staff.
Some discussion also took place around developing a policy for when the deposit would be used.
Many cities use this deposit amount to cover additional review time or additional third party reviews (e.g. engineering, traffic study review, technical reviews, etc.).
In the fee schedule for American Fork, they charge 50 percent of the initial review cost for review of site plans or subdivisions in excess of three submittal reviews.
“We would also propose that after three submittal reviews, we would begin to deduct the costs of review based on an hourly rate from the deposit amount,” he said. “After staff discussion, it was determined that three submittal reviews should be ample opportunity to submit clean plans.”
Third party reviews will typically be charged at the cost of the consultant.
The advantage of a deposit is that the review can move forward without waiting for additional funds to be submitted for the third party reviews.
As it currently stands with the city’s land use code, any third party review would need to be negotiated with the developer before moving forward with the review. The Red Cliffs subdivision, which prompted a traffic study, was an example.
As the land use code is modified and reviewed by the planning commission and city council, it will identify when and how a third party review is warranted.
“If the council leans more toward not charging a deposit, then the staff would recommend a structure similar to the one used in American Fork,” Atkinson said.
The fee schedule for American Fork was studied by council members prior to the council adopting a resolution.
How does the staff determine what the cost of a staff member who is doing the work actually is? asked Mark Jones, mayor.
The cost is figured on the pay scale and number of man hours actually spent, said Atkinson.
The council did adopt the resolution for the purpose of establishing and setting forth a general schedule of the most common fees charged by Nephi City. The resolution was entitled “General Fee Schedule.”