The Spokane County commissioners saved developer Buster Heitman as much as $96,000 earlier this month.
The commissioners overturned the board of hearing examiners when they ruled that Heitman does not have to pay impact fees on his Winfield Park subdivision in Mead.
Heitman received a three-year preliminary approval for the subdivision in 1991.
Rarely do developers get their subdivisions finalized before the three-year time period. State law says that as long as a developer can show a “good faith” effort to finalize the proposal, local governments have to grant a one-year extension.
Heitman managed to get final approval for 68 of the houses last year. He was close to getting approval for the other 77 homes, when the county Planning Department ordered more soil testing.
When the preliminary approval to develop the land expired, Heitman applied for a one-year extension.
That was when the hearing examiners, at the recommendation of the planning staff, ordered Heitman to negotiate impact fees with the Mead School District and the county Parks and Recreation Department.
The Mead School District has routinely been asking developers to pay $750 per lot to offset the cost of portable classrooms needed for more students. The Parks Department has been asking for $500 per lot.
Stan Schultz, Heitman’s attorney, told the commissioners a state law prohibits the county from changing the conditions of a preliminary plat when granting a one-year extension.
Schultz said he was miffed that he had to go through the appeal, but was satisfied the commissioners interpreted the law the same way he did.
“That’s what happens when you read the statute,” he said. “That’s why they write those things down.”
The commissioners also agreed to refund the $210 fee Heitman paid in order to appeal the ruling, Schultz said.