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Planners drop impact fees for storm water

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By The Staff

SHEPHERDSVILLE - Richard Miles and other developers should be feeling pretty good - even in the tough economy.

After pleading their case about new impact fees proposed by the Bullitt County Joint Planning Commission for the federal storm water program, their concerns were heard.

Originally planning to charge roughly $1,000 an acre for impact fees to handle future storm retention basins issues, the planning commission turned a complete about face just a week later.

On Thursday, the commission voted unanimously to eliminate all impact fees proposed in the original document.

However, developers may not get off totally free.

Commissioner Larry Watkins is asking that in the draft document, a $250 fee be imposed for each retention/detention basin located on a new development.

And he also wanted to make sure the retention area property was deeded to homeowners to make sure they would maintain the land, with the exception of any dam.

When the planning commission hosted its public hearing on July 23, planners got an earful from developers concerned that the fees, which were around $1,000 per acre of the entire development, could drive building to other areas outside Bullitt County.

The county is mandated by the federal government to have some legislation concerning the handling of storm water. It is part of the permitting process required.

The planning commission incorporated the storm water controls into its subdivision regulations, which had not been totally updated since the early 1980s.

Planning commissioner Daryl Lee said he was opposed to the fees proposed. If fees were imposed, he would like it to include only the area used for the retention basins.

Watkins said the county doesn’t need to be in the lawn service where it takes over maintenance of all the retention basins.

But, he said the proposal is too costly to consider.

Commissioner Sam Beichler agreed that the fees proposed were out of line.

Bill Streble said Miles had good idea of charging $1,000 per retention basin.

Lee said he questioned the legality of the county collecting money for a maintenance trust fund.

Commissioner Thomas Givhan, a member of the committee working on the regulations, said he was also opposed to any type of fees. In listening to the comments during the public hearing, Givhan agreed that keeping the county competitive for growth was important.

He was concerned about the results when a homeowners association, which would be entrusted with maintaining the retention basins, fails to work properly.

That was a concern of a resident at the public hearing.

The commission voted 11-0 to drop all impact fees proposed in the draft ordinance.

Givhan was concerned about Watkins’ motion to the set $250 fee. While OK with the fee, Givhan said the commission should get legal opinion from its attorney Rob Flaherty, who was out of town on business and not available, before deciding to get involved with land titles.

Following the meeting, Miles was very pleased with the commission’s action.

“It’s a compliment to the planning commission for listening,” said Miles, who is the largest residential developer in the county.

He was surprised that the commission would make such a drastic change in its thinking but shows the members listened to the comments.

“The system worked,” said Miles.

The commission will take up its discussion on the matter at its Aug. 13 meeting at 7 p.m. at the courthouse annex. The public is invited.