Village committee proposes impact fee hike

By Raquel Garcia….
At a recent Pinecrest Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting, the members agreed that the time has come to raise impact fees by 43 percent to reflect today’s costs and to bring them in line with the corresponding consumer price index.

The proposed revised impact fee regulations will be presented at the next Village Council meeting on Nov. 8 as an ordinance for first reading approval. The committee reasoned that it has been 15 years since the Village was incorporated and impact fees have not been raised during that time. Committee members said it was time to bring the fee structure up to date.

The three categories of impact fees that will increase are:
• Police
• Parks
 • Municipal facilities.

Impact fees are one time charges to developers and businesses based on the impact a new development may have on the city.

 “A new house built on vacant land will impact area roads, parks and police who will be obligated to service that increased population,” said Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano Gomez.

Planning Director Steve Olmsted’s Powerpoint presentation explaining the increase showed examples such as the police impact fee that would change from the current $97 per new single family home unit to $136. Parks impact fee increases would go from $400 to $565 or $737 to $1,041, depending on the size of the property.

 Although Councilmember Joe Corradino pointed out that residency in Pinecrest has shrunk since the Village incorporated and most properties are built out, any properties adding substantial square footage to residential or commercial property could be affected by the new impact fees.

The money generated by impact fees goes into the general fund to offset the cost of service, according to Olmsted. He said the increased fees would bring in an additional $4,000 to $10,000 dollars annually for new residential and commercial properties, and even more for larger redevelopments.”

Another new ordinance in the works aims at regulating special events. Although county and parks regulations currently have standards that must be followed for a special event to take place, the administrative process is handled piecemeal and could use improvement said Village Manager Galiano Gomez.

 “We have no formal process when someone in the Village is interested in hosting a special event,” she told the panel. “So if we formalize the approach it will make it less cumbersome in the long run. We are not here to hinder any events, nor are we married to any language written thus far; we want to streamline the process to make it easier.”

Christ the King Lutheran Church Council President John Kelso asked that the Village alter the language of the working ordinance to exempt houses of worship and schools from the ordinance.

“We have been here for nearly 50 years, before Pinecrest was Pinecrest,” he said. “We host over 80 events each year, including a regular concert schedule. Our events are self-contained and do not require street closures or enhanced law enforcement. We would like to request an exception. The arbitrary language as written could apply to us, so that is why I am here on behalf of the church.”

The committee expressed a willingness to accommodate Kelso’s concerns. Councilmember Jeff Cutler indicated the purpose of the anticipated special event permit regulation was intended to be a minimalist approach only.

 “This will affect businesses and residences that may compromise the rights of Village residents by having to drive around closed streets or subsidize costs for additional police patrol at special events,” Cutler said. “We are trying to create boundaries without creating problems for residents.”

Kelso’s impressions after addressing the commission were favorable. “I commend the committee for what it is trying to accomplish,” he said. “The execution of the ordinance is what needs to be carefully crafted. We want to continue to be good citizens of Pinecrest and we look forward to working together in cooperation before the final ordinance comes forward.”

Sidewalk sales by area businesses was also considered and limitations on two special sales events per year with maximum seven-day duration will be reviewed.

For more information, contact Village planning director Steve Olmsted at 305- 234-2121 or email <solmsted@pinecrestfl. gov>.

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