County weighs impact fees for roads

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To help fund road improvements as the Stagecoach and Steamboat Lake communities develop, Routt County officials are studying impact fees.

Impact fees allow residents in a specific area to contribute to funding improvements in their area without putting the financial burden on the rest of the county, county officials said. An impact fee could be charged at the time a permit to build is issued, or it could take the form of a toll road.

"If we don't have some type of impact fees to help finance these improvements, they are probably not going to happen," Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said.

Under state law, impact fees do not need to be approved by voters. Local governments are required to use the funds quickly so that those who help pay will benefit, county officials said.

The fees could be used to improve Routt County roads 14 and 16 going to Stagecoach, as well as C.R. 129 to Steamboat Lake, as well as funding emergency services. Funds from smaller areas could be used for neighborhood streets.

Today, Routt County commissioners likely will select Denver-based Clarion Associates to do an impact-fee feasibility study, to be completed by early summer for no more than $21,000. The study will determine how much residents would have to be charged and whether the concept works, Monger said.

The county also will take public comment in the coming months to learn whether residents are willing to pay for the improvements.

The response from residents may not be favorable, if the defeat of a 1996 ballot question asking voters to fund improvement of C.R. 14 is any indication.

The county has been saving funds for improvements, but much of that money is going to build the court-ordered justice center, Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said.

Stagecoach and Steamboat Lake subdivisions were platted in 1973, before the county required developers provide bonds for infrastructure such as roads, Routt County Planner Chad Phillips said.

At buildout, Stagecoach could have 2,600 units, while Steamboat Lake likely will have about 500, Phillips said.

Routt County commissioners will discuss the impact-fee feasibility study at 3 p.m. today.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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