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Public hearing planned on impact fees for new construction

July 08, 2010
WOLFEBORO — The Wolfeboro planning board is planning to hold a public hearing on setting impact fees for new construction. The likely date for the hearing will be at the next regular meeting of the board on Tuesday, Aug. 3, according to Wolfeboro Town Planner Rob Houseman.

Wolfeboro voters approved an ordinance authorizing the planning board to assess impact fees in 2007, based . Impact fees are an assessment designed to offset the cost of improvements to facilities caused by new construction. Although any additional public facilities, such as a new fire or police station, could qualify, the most common impact of new housing is on school facilities, if the new construction serves to increase the student population. More students may require a new school or addition to accommodate the increase. The argument for impact fees is that since current taxpayers are already paying the basic cost of the school, new developments or construction that increase the number of students should be assessed proportionally for the added cost of educating them.

With the bonding of the Kingswood expansion and renovation project this past year, Wolfeboro was provided with the data needed to develop fair and proportional impact fees. An outside consultant, BCM Planning LLC of New Gloucester, Maine, was commissioned to prepare a "Basis for Assessment for Public School Impact Fee" for the Town of Wolfeboro. The 30-page report was completed on Dec. 1, 2009 and offered three methods of assessing an impact fee. After some discussion the board is considering a fee per dwelling unit. The fees to be considered at the upcoming public hearing are as follows:

1) For single-family detached housing, $4,184 per dwelling unit;

2) For duplex or multifamily housing of three or more units, $2,024 per dwelling unit; and

3) For all manufactured housing, $3,412 per dwelling unit.

At the public hearing the board will review the methodology used to come up with what are intended to be fair and proportional fees.

Fees collected will go toward paying Wolfeboro's share of the Kingswood debt service.

The 2007 ordinance specifically allows the granting of waivers for housing dedicated to occupants age 55 or older. A full or partial waiver process is also available to others who can demonstrate that the construction will not impact the schools. Additions to existing homes are exempt.

"If you buy an existing house, you are also exempt," Houseman pointed out.

According to Houseman, at the presenttime new construction is 12 new housing units a year, down from the 80 units a year seen in 2004-2005 and reflecting a depressed housing market. As the market improves and development resumes, the planning board wants to have an impact fee schedule in place.

Unlike the passage of the impact fee ordinance itself, which required majority voter approval, the impact fees themselves can be adopted by the planning board itself following a public hearing.

Once the hearing date is set, the planning board will publish a legal notice on page A4 of this paper two weeks in advance.

Martin Lord Osman
Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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