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Thread: Road impact fees for commercial units

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Road impact fees for commercial units

    So I'm suddenly put in the position of evaluating an application for request for road impact fee reduction. I know next to nothing about impact fees, so I'm turning to the Brain. Here's the question:

    Is the argument that "commercial trips shouldn't pay road impact fees because they are 'trip attractors' rather than 'trip generators'" hold any water?

    The applicant is arguing that residential lots produce traffic; commercial units simply redirect traffic that is already on the road and, therefore, shouldn't have to pay anything. I see the logic, but that's 28k we're talking about!

    Any thoughts? How do other jurisdictions do it? What about consultants?

  2. #2
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    "Attractors" "generators." Semantics. Commercial uses pay the fee. If they weren't there, there's be no trips to the site. Tag them with the fee.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Don't you have a fee schedule already that's based on different uses? Otherwise you're just going to be haggling it out with every applicant.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    I've worked on Impact Fee studies where the impact of commercial businesses are assessed fees based on edu's or equivalent dwelling units, so that fees can be equitably assessed for residential and commercial uses. Obviously, ITE trip generation figures are used to make the comparison and establish fee levels.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  5. #5
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Our traffic impact fees are laid out in a thorough corridor study, showing the ultimate buildout of the corridor, and each development area's impact and contribution. All uses pay the fees, based on new (excluding pass by or diverted route trips) PM peak hour trips.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by NHPlanner
    Our traffic impact fees are laid out in a thorough corridor study, showing the ultimate buildout of the corridor, and each development area's impact and contribution. All uses pay the fees, based on new (excluding pass by or diverted route trips) PM peak hour trips.
    Do you have provisions to pay additional fees if an existing business expands?
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  7. #7
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Budgie
    Do you have provisions to pay additional fees if an existing business expands?
    Yes. If the building expands, only the "new" PM peak trips created by the expansion are subject to the impact fees.

    I forgot to mention, in cases when the developer does off-site improvements that are consistent with our corridor study, the impact fees are credited to the work done, so that there is no "double dipping."
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  8. #8
    Cyburbian chasqui's avatar
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    Trip Attractors?

    Is the argument that "commercial trips shouldn't pay road impact fees because they are 'trip attractors' rather than 'trip generators'" hold any water?
    No. No water held.
    If no one attracted traffic, no one would have a car and generate trips.
    I take it your applicant is a lawyer? Your ordinance probably says fees are based on the amount of trip generation and they want to get out of paying because they "generate no trips"? You have to give them credit for sneaky thinking though.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chasqui
    Is the argument that "commercial trips shouldn't pay road impact fees because they are 'trip attractors' rather than 'trip generators'" hold any water?
    No. No water held.
    If no one attracted traffic, no one would have a car and generate trips.
    I take it your applicant is a lawyer? Your ordinance probably says fees are based on the amount of trip generation and they want to get out of paying because they "generate no trips"? You have to give them credit for sneaky thinking though.
    The question is in regard to the ITE trip generation definition. A single family home generates just under 10 "trips" per day. Are departures and returns each counted as a trip. Therefore a trip to the store would generate 4 trips, a departure from home, arrival at store, departure from store and arrival at home. The residence and home should equally share in the cost.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Hilldweller- we DON'T differentiate between uses... that's why our impact fee reg needs to be updated. And since there is a provision in the reg that states that the applicant can do their own study and the commission can consider it, it usually means that we are most definitely haggling it out with each and every developer. Sucks.

    The applicant isn't a lawyer, but they've hired the same firm to do the traffic study that always gets hired to haggle down impact fees. The argument is that residential uses produce traffic... commercial uses simply redirect the traffic that is already on the road. If cars from residential point X are normally travelling to point Y, and then commercial use Z comes in and all cars from point X get redirected to point Z, then point Z hasn't caused any new traffic and by getting the residential use X to pay impact fees then you've got it covered.

    That's their argument, anyway.

  11. #11
    They must have supplies/goods delivered to them, no? They have employees, don't they? To say they aren't a generator is phooey to me.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  12. #12
    Cyburbian chasqui's avatar
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    Ugh!

    Quote Originally posted by vaughan
    we DON'T differentiate between uses... that's why our impact fee reg needs to be updated. ...the applicant can do their own study and ...we are most definitely haggling it out with each and every developer. Sucks.
    Sucks.You said it.
    Most of the Impact Fees ordinances I have seen, (including the last City I worked) for differentiated between commercial and residential uses. Where I last worked the ord. allowed for the developer to come in with their own study but this didn't happen often. The impact fees were low and for most development, after paying for a study, the developer probably wouldn't save any money. Of course, on large projects, everything is negotiable.
    What you might want to do, because it may take a while to update you ordinance, is to have a "training session" on impact fees. This way you set the context for P&Z, Council, etc. The next time a developer comes in saying that they generate no trips (great point Gedunker - what about employees, and deliveries on 18-wheelers!) they will be reprimanded. Others will get the message.
    Just a thought.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by vaughan
    Is the argument that "commercial trips shouldn't pay road impact fees because they are 'trip attractors' rather than 'trip generators'" hold any water?
    No doesn't hold any water at all. I understand the subtle distinction they are trying to make, but it doesn't work.

    Your Ordinance speaks for itself. If it requires all uses to pay, then there should not be an argument. The Ordinance presumably took this into account when it was written.

    If you give in for this development, then you are basically waiving all impact fees for all commercial projects. They are not presenting a unique arguement that suggests they should be treated differently.

    Some impact fees do break down into certain expenditure cateorgies and differentiate between them (for example I have seen recreation impact fees charged only to residences and not commercial operations). But for all of the impact fees that I am familiar with, ALL of them require transportation fees for commercial uses for road projects. Commercial uses result in wear and tear on roads, plain and simiple, impact fees help pay for that.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    They must have supplies/goods delivered to them, no? They have employees, don't they? To say they aren't a generator is phooey to me.
    They draw trips from outside the community.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks a lot, guys... i think i've got the ammo to proceed.

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