Despite concerns, Pitkin County opts to raise road impact fees |

Despite concerns, Pitkin County opts to raise road impact fees

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Pitkin County will move forward with a hike in impact fees to fund certain road improvements despite the seemingly conflicting concerns that the county charges too much compared to other places and that it doesn’t charge enough for its biggest homes.

The fees, dedicated to road capacity and safety upgrades, are imposed on residential and commercial development in unincorporated Pitkin County. They’re levied as part of the building-permit process.

First implemented in 2000, the transportation impact fees are due for an increase, county commissioners agreed Tuesday. An ordinance establishing the new fees will come back to commissioners for formal action.

The biggest changes to the existing fees will be imposed on residential development. A sliding fee schedule sets fees for homes ranging from 1,000 square feet of heated space to 5,800 square feet. On the high end, the fee would jump from $7,818 to $9,850. The fee on a 1,000-square-foot residence would increase from $3,505 to $4,350.

Some commissioners expressed interest in extending the fee schedule upward for homes larger than 5,800 square feet, but that will come in a future step. Data on the vehicle trips generated by the bigger homes doesn’t currently exist to justify the greater fees, commissioners were told.

Commissioner Jack Hatfield questioned why Pitkin County charges far more than other counties around Colorado, whose impact fees were provided for comparison’s sake. The national average for a 2,000-square-foot single-family home is $3,077 while the proposed fee in Pitkin County is $6,520 (the current fee is $5,664). In Jefferson County, the fee is $2,591, while in Eagle County, it’s $1,600.

“Is the cost of business here that much more dramatic than in Jefferson County?” Hatfield asked.

Other counties may not charge as much as they could, suggested Commissioner Michael Owsley.

“I know our community has always had a growth-should-pay-its-own-way philosophy,” said Commissioner Rachel Richards.

The town of Vail is coming up with transportation impact fees that will be comparable to Pitkin County’s, said Dwayne Guthrie, principal with TischlerBise, a consulting firm that helped develop the county’s proposed fee schedule. The firm is also working with Vail.

With Commissioner Patti Clapper absent, the other four commissioners agreed unanimously to move forward with the fee hikes.

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