Forsyth County Proposes Highest Impact Fees in Metro Area

On Wednesday, October 21st, The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners held a special work session to discuss the Impact Fee Study prepared by consultant Duncan and Associates. The Council for Quality Growth and several Council members including land use attorneys Doug Dillard and Ethan Underwood, were in attendance at the meeting and are closely monitoring the progress of the new fees.

The proposed Roads/Transportation Fee is significantly higher than any other municipality in the region at $7,288 for residential units and $9,392 per 1,000 sq. ft. of commercial.  Forsyth County has not previously collected Roads Impact Fees. The Council for Quality Growth submitted a formal letter to the Board of Commissioners asking them to consider a 60% reduction in the Roads Fee ($3,757 per 1,000 square feet of commercial and a roads fee of $2,915 per residential unit) and to allow projects that have applied for rezoning or received a preliminary plat approval or LDP to be vested and subject to current impact fees. The Council also asked the Commissioners to consider allowing the Impact Fee Advisory Committee more time to review the proposal giving special consideration to the impact the fees will have on economic development, to which the commissioners agreed.

On Monday, November 2nd the Impact Fee Advisory Committee reconvened to hear from experts and discuss proposing additional recommendations for the implementation of the Roads Impact Fee. The Council for Quality Growth and Forsyth Cumming Chamber arranged for members of the residential, commercial and industrial development community to explain how the impact fees are detrimental to current and future development in Forsyth. Speakers included Paul Corley, CEO of Edward Andrews Homes, Rob Good of the Good Group, John Decker of Childress Klein, commercial broker Scott Hutchison and Chairman of Forsyth Development Authority, David Seago. James Touchton, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, also addressed the committee and provided additional information and concerns about the proposed fees. To view the Council’s document listing major issues with the proposed fees, click HERE.

The committee discussed at length how Forsyth County is currently challenged to attract commercial development and adding the proposed impact fees will only hurt that effort. The committee unanimously voted to recommend to the Board of Commissioners to exempt all non-residential development from the roads impact fee (proposed at $9,392 per $1,000 sq.ft.). Members of the development community on the committee made additional motions to lessen the initial impact of the proposed fees on residential development as well. Rusty Whitlow made a motion to exempt or vest all developments which have an LDP, Preliminary Plat or approved rezonings from the new fees for a period of 24 months. Whitlow, Chris Cole of D.R. Horton, Lamar Wakefield of Wakefield Beasley and Associates, and Jeff Hoza of Beazer Homes voted in favor of the motion; however, Planning Commissioner Greg Dolezal, Claudia Castro, Liz Shaw, and Forsyth County CFO, David Gruen, voted against the motion and it unfortunately failed with a tie. Chris Cole introduced a subsequent motion to reduce the residential fee by 50% (from $8,961 to $4,480) and review the program in 24 to 36 months. This motion also failed with the same tie vote. Therefore, the committee’s original recommendation to phase in the fees at 50% in the first year, 75% in the second year and 100% in the third year will remain in place and apply only to residential development. The proposed Impact Fee Ordinance incorporates the committee recommendation to phase the fees in over three years, but does not address commercial development exemptions or vesting planned and proposed projects.

Click HERE to view the draft Impact Fee Ordinance

 

For any questions or concerns please contact Chelsea at ch@councilforqualitygrowth.org or 770-813-3374.

The table below shows the proposed Fee changes in Forsyth County:

Forsyth Impact Fee changes