2011-01-26 / News

County to reduce fees

By Greg Pearson

County officials took one more step last week in their efforts to reduce commercial and residential planning fees to be more in line with Henrico and Hanover counties. A public hearing will be held on Feb. 15 so citizens and the business community can comment on the proposed lower fees.

According to Planning Director Kirk Turner, the new fees would go into effect Sept. 22 and are estimated to cost Chesterfield $130,000 to $170,000 during the first year. The county’s economic development department supports the fee schedule.

Joe Feest, planning administrator, collected fee schedules from Henrico and Hanover, and a comparison chart was presented to the planning commission that included significantly reduced fees for Chesterfield. To simplify the fee structure, county planners proposed making the fees the same for both commercial and residential development (see chart).

Developers and the business community in general have complained for years that it is more expensive to do business in the county. To encourage economic development, the county board approved a second year of its “fee holiday” that runs through September. But many business leaders have been asking for a permanent fix.

Chesterfield has higher fees because the county utilizes a user-fee system to recoup 80 percent of its development costs, following the philosophy that development should pay for itself. Business leaders say that philosophy has caused Chesterfield to lose economic development opportunities.

In Henrico and Hanover counties, most of the cost for development has been borne by taxpayers through the counties’ general funds, and that’s where Chesterfield would find the monies.

“We’re trying to be more competitive with Henrico and Hanover,” said Turner.

The cost of applying for conditional uses like cell towers, landfills, quarries, mines, borrow pits and adult businesses would come down from $5,300 to $4,100, but still be much higher than the other two counties. Henrico charges $300 while Hanover levies a $1,500 fee.

Commissioners didn’t discuss the proposed rates but are likely to make changes next month before passing their recommendation along to county supervisors. The board will consider the lower fees during its budgeting process. The county will be dealing with lower revenues for the budget year that begins July 1.

Application type     Existing fee   Existing fee   Proposed fee  
       residential    commercial  
Rezoning*     $5,300 plus $90/acre    $4,100 plus $80/ acre $   1,500 plus $50/acre**
Site plan     $2,000 plus $90/acre    $1,200 plus $80/ acre   $600 plus $30/acre*
Tentative subdivision $800 plus $90/lot    N/A    $800 plus $30/lot
Final check subdivision  $1,100 plus $20/lot    N/A    $500 plus $20/lot

*Includes rezonings with conditional use and conditional use plan development
**Both residential and commercial


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