Master Builders Satisfied With Limited Impact Fee Ordinance
Chehalis, WA-The Lewis County Chapter of Olympia Master Builders (OMB) supports yesterday’s adoption of a new, very limited impact fee ordinance in Lewis County. The new ordinance, which applies only to the Birchfield Fully Contained Community (FCC), is the end result of several years of work by the county to allow the FCC to move forward, while complying with state law. Impact fees will not be collected anywhere else in the county.
“This is a victory for the Birchfield community, the residents of Lewis County, and hometown builders and developers,” said Adam Kugel, owner of Chehalis-based Kugel Construction. “It’s a great example of how working together can produce good, win-win solutions.”
The county was in a tight spot, having already approved the application for the FCC several years ago. A hearing examiner decision had pointed out that state law requires impact fees to be established if an FCC is approved. County leaders thought they would have to impose the impact fees throughout the county, so they proposed a countywide ordinance in 2012.
OMB publicly opposed the ordinance, because, according to Kugel, impact fees stifle growth and hurt the local economy. The fees can also make buying a home more difficult.
“Impact fees increase the cost of new home construction, which in turn reduces the number of residents that can afford to purchase a new home,” Kugel said.
After the ordinance failed to gain support, the commissioners charged staff with crafting a new ordinance that would limit impact fees, but that would also allow the FCC’s developers to move forward with their plans. The current ordinance does that by limiting impact fees to the boundaries of the FCC itself. OMB is happy with the county’s work to keep Lewis County largely impact fee free.
“They heard our concerns and they took them very seriously. It was incredibly refreshing to see that from the government on any level,” said Kugel.
Formed in 1959, Olympia Master Builders is a professional trade association dedicated to improving the construction industry and providing affordable housing for people in all economic segments. OMB provides services in five counties: Thurston, Lewis, Grays Harbor, Pacific and Mason.