After much debate over the issue in the past month, the Cheney City Council approved the update of the city’s park impact fees.
Stan Schwartz, city attorney for Cheney, said the ordinance had received a few changes since the introduction of it that included some wording in one section that caused some debate.
In the case of a developer that builds a trail or a basketball court in a new development and decides to keep the property private, the city could give credit toward the impact fee, up to 25 percent.
The mayor would present the information to the park board which would then make a recommendation to the City Council. The original language said send to the City Council “for approval,” but Schwartz worried that the language was too specific and wanted to change it to “for consideration.”
“You may not like their recommendation,” Schwartz said. Councilmember Mike McKeehan suggested “for final approval,” so the council could modify, reject or approve any recommendation that comes before them.
Before the council approved the impact fees, Sara Orrange of the Spokane Association of Realtors, approached the council arguing that the impact fees would discourage future homebuyers from buying in Cheney. Orrange said that under the previous plan for the fees, homebuilders or buyers only had to pay the fees if there were five or more units. Under the update, the fees would be applied to all new construction.
Paul Simmons, director of Cheney Parks and Recreation, argued that the fees were important, since when more people move into the area, more wear and tear is put on the existing parks.
“Parks are not cheap,” Simmons said, explaining that the parks are expensive to build and expensive to maintain. He also said that Airway Heights pays about three times as much in park impact fees.
The fees would be based upon occupancy and would be $570 per person – it was previously $439.73. The fees were calculated by using a formula that divides current park development costs by the projected population growth of Cheney. Housing trends also dictated the number of people living in a single-family home. The previous figure for people living in a single-family home the city used was 2.9. The new figure the city will use will be 2.6.
The council unanimously approved the ordinance.
The council also heard the second reading of the new business license ordinance.
Arlene Fisher, city administrator, clarified information presented at the last council meeting regarding rental home owners. Under the new business license ordinance, rental owners would have to pay the fee.
If the city approves the ordinance, there would be no fee for the business licenses in 2009, and if businesses signed up this year, the fee would be $15 for the year 2010. In 2011, the fee will be $30.
The council will have the third reading of this ordinance and make its decision at the next council meeting, April 14.