Planning fee holiday could be extended

At its Aug. 17 meeting, the Planning Commission will consider several options for extending the planning fee holiday that expired on June 30.

At the Board of Supervisors June 23 meeting, Bob Schrum, the government relations chairman of the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce, asked the supervisors to extend the fee holiday.

“There’s some concerns, I think, that people have that the fee holiday didn’t really work,” he said, but officials shouldn’t let such concerns detract from the opportunity to jumpstart the county’s economy.

Dale District Supervisor Jim Holland moved to send the matter back to the Planning Commission for study.

“I think it’s critically important that we continue to invest and continue to support job creation in this county,” he said.

Matoaca District Supervisor Marleen Durfee said it wasn’t clear that the original fee holiday had yielded the desired results and the issue needed deeper consideration.

Supervisors Chairman Dan Gecker said he believed the original program had not been successful.

“I am concerned that this is going to be an example of a program that, once it gets started, will be impossible to get rid of,” he said. But, “at the same time I’m going to vote for it to go back to the commission to get the advice and input there,” he said.

At the Planning Commission’s July 20 meeting, Planning Director Kirk Turner said the Board of Supervisors had directed the commission to consider extending the fees. One suggestion, Turner said, was to consider the previous fee holiday but exempt cell towers and electronic signs from the holiday.

According to a staff report on the proposed fee holiday, the previous fee holiday was adopted by the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 26, 2009, and ran through June 30, 2010.

During the previous fee holiday, zoning fees were reduced to a $200 minimum for applications for commercial, office or industrial uses. The maximum fee credit was $8,200, and only initial submissions were eligible for the reduction. Variances, deferral requests, remand requests, any use incidental to a principal dwelling unit, family day care homes and appeals of development standards waivers were not eligible for the reduction.

A total of 26 rezoning applications and 34 site plan applications were filed under the holiday, resulting in $180,942 in waived fees, or “lost” revenue, the report says.
On July 20, the commission discussed several options for another fee holiday and set an Aug. 17 public hearing on the matter. In order to accommodate discussion of the various options, the staff published an advertisement suggesting that all planning fees be temporarily waived, it says.

“This is not to suggest, however, that all Planning Department zoning and subdivision fees should be temporarily reduced,” the report says. “It is only a mechanism to allow maximum flexibility in determining appropriate temporary fee reduction recommendations for the remainder” of the current fiscal year.

According to the staff report, among the options discussed July 20 were:

  • Waiving all site plan original submittal fees, including up to two resubmittals, as well as the per acre fee, for commercial and residential uses. In the previous fiscal year, which ended July 30, the planning department received 32 original site plan submittals.
  • Waiving all tentative subdivision plat original submittal fees, including up to two resubmittals, as well as the per acre fee. In the previous fiscal year, the planning department received 34 original tentative subdivision submittals.
  • Temporarily reducing the rezoning fee for any office or industrial use rezoning application to a maximum of $4,000, including the per acre charge. In the previous fiscal year, the planning department received one such rezoning application.
  • Continuing the currently expired fee holiday but not allowing zoning applications relating to cell towers or computer controlled variable message electronic signs to qualify for any fee holiday. In the previous fiscal year, two cell tower and six electronic sign applications qualified for the holiday.
  • Reducing the maximum reduction for rezoning applications to one application only for a maximum credit of $4,500 instead of $8,000, the level during the previous fee holiday.
  • Reducing the original site plan application fee maximum credit from $8,000, the level during the previous fee holiday, to $1,200, which is the base application fee. The applicant would then be required to pay only the acreage fee of $80 per acre.

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