Hayden looks at impact fees

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— Following Steamboat Springs' lead, the community of Hayden is contemplating impact fees on new development as a way to pay for costs associated with growth.

The town's administration, with the help of a consulting firm, has drafted a proposed policy that would establish transportation fees for new residential, commercial and industrial development within the town. That proposed policy will be reviewed by the Hayden Town Board of Trustees during its 7:30 p.m. meeting Thursday at Town Hall, 178 Jefferson Ave.

The transportation impact fee is just one such fee the town is considering. Others include an impact fee for parks and one for water and sewer services.

The town is moving forward with the proposed impact fee for transportation because of a recent comprehensive traffic study completed by the consulting firm, Transplan.

"The study has determined our current road system is adequate," Town Manager Rob Straebel said. "With any future growth, we would need to improve our road system.

"We are interested in developing impact fees from future growth for future road improvements."

Hayden's proposal comes just weeks after impact fees were instituted in Steamboat Springs.

In Steamboat, impact fees will pay for growth-related capital projects in the city and will be assessed on all new residential and commercial development. The measure, which charges a fee of $4,454 on each new home built, was approved by the City Council in June.

Critics charge that the fees are unfair and will further inflate the city's housing market, which already has a dearth of affordable housing. A group of Steamboat residents is circulating a petition that would force the city to hold an election on the issue.

At this point, Hayden's policy does not provide a fee schedule that would be imposed, Straebel said.

"This policy is still in its draft form," he said. "There is a formula we are working with."

Hayden administration and the firm have been working on the impact fee policy at the direction of the Town Board.

The reason for examining an impact fee for transportation is not to burden current residents with the costs of new development, Straebel said.

"We don't think it is fair or equitable to assess fees or higher taxes to our current residents because of growth," Straebel said. "Growth should pay for itself."

Last week, the town's Planning Commission heard a presentation regarding the policy.

It is the firm's and Straebel's intention to use the feedback from the Town Board and the Planning Commission to prepare a permanent draft the board could vote on later this year.

Along with the impact fee issue, the traffic study is focusing on other aspects of the town's road system.

The traffic study will provide town officials with options for an alternative access route for the Golden Meadows Subdivision to U.S. 40. The study will also identify dangerous intersections and determine how friendly the town's current streets and roads are to pedestrians and bicyclists.

Transplan started to work on the traffic study in early spring. Transplan is being paid $10,000 for the work. Representatives of the Boulder-based firm are expected to meet with town officials in August to discuss the traffic study.

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