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Thread: Guidance for requiring offsite improvements

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Guidance for requiring offsite improvements

    Our all-volunteer and lately high-turnover town government has a difficult time determining what it may ask of developers in the way of proportionate offsite improvements. Many of our systems are inadequate according to our own standards at the moment, so it is hard for us to figure out what is fair and legal. I am afraid a lack of confidence could lead to the town getting the short end of the stick, since experienced applicants usually toss in their lawsuit threat right off the bat, with some success. We have a capital facilities plan and collect impact fees, but I am talking about up-front exactions. I have been wishing we had guidelines in our policies, even if all it did was list the likely areas of impact and suggested methods to come up with supportable numbers. Am I making any sense? My burning question: do municipalities ever have written guidelines for this? If so, anyone have an example? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Clore's avatar
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    Our only guidance comes from our state's Municipalities Planning Code, which says that we can't require offsite improvements! If we get a traffic study done as a result of a development, and it shows impact, then we can require offsite improvments.
    ...Moving at the speed of local government

  3. #3
    maudit anglais
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    Legislative requirements (State?) will probably go a long way towards telling you when and what off-site improvements you can ask for. Here (different country, different system) the rough rule is that you can only get off-site improvements if the development requires an amendment to the Town Plan or Zoning By-law. If it is just a site plan application, you can only get on-site improvements. This is because (in theory anyway) the town's Plan and infrastructure should accommodate the proposed use.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian plnrgrl's avatar
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    Look to Florida, a prime example of enabling local governments to require developers to contribute to offsite improvements. The state recently required each local government (cities and counties) to adopt a transportation proportionate fair share ordinance. Go to www.myflorida.com and type that into the search and I'm sure you will come up with something.

    The movement now is to continue on with a school proportionate fair share ordinance. Recently we were all required to adopt interlocal school agreements requiring us all to work closely with the School Board (in Florida, each school district is the boundaries of the county) on school capacities. We are now mandated to adopt a Public Schools Facilities Element into our Comprehensive Plans. If a development is going to project capacities of the school system to become over capacity, then mitigation is required. Same website will have information.

    Concurrency is the buzzword here. The development must have the following infrastructure and services before it can be approved. In some cases, the improvements to serve the development can be shown as funded in the Capital Improvements Plan, but only if within three years. These include transportation, water, sewer, solid waste, schools, drainage and parks and recreation. Level of service standards are adopted in the Comprehensive Plan and cannot be exceeded. It is a very complex process, and not recommended jumping into without a professional planner experienced in this arena to work with you.

    Know that the Comprehensive Plan is a very strong and binding document in Florida. I don't know the status in your state.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Clore's avatar
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    Holy cow! I'm moving to Florida!
    PA has none of those provisions...
    ...Moving at the speed of local government

  6. #6
    Cyburbian plnrgrl's avatar
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    You may want to reexamine that tactic. With property taxes rising due to overinflated markets, and home owners insurance at record highs, Florida has become a very expensive place to live in many communities. Of course in the bigger cities, there are still affordable places, but nothing that is shiny and new. 2006 was the first year more people moved out of the state than in.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Clore's avatar
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    That's an interesting statistic. I was down in Ft. Lauderdale for a day last month... wasn't a place I'd want to go back to. No charm at all. Guess I'm spoiled with all of the northeast's old buildings!
    ...Moving at the speed of local government

  8. #8
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Clore View post
    That's an interesting statistic. I was down in Ft. Lauderdale for a day last month... wasn't a place I'd want to go back to. No charm at all. Guess I'm spoiled with all of the northeast's old buildings!
    What did you expect? Charm isn't part of the fast-paced south Florida lifestyle.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Clore's avatar
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    Having grown up around old architecture, I guess I've taken it for granted as being everywhere.... and I miss it when it's not there!
    ...Moving at the speed of local government

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