Mount Pleasant Town Council votes for higher impact fees

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Mount Pleasant, SC (WCBD) — Developers in the Town of Mount Pleasant will soon see higher costs after the town’s council voted to increase impact fees.

In a 5-4 vote the council adopted a new ordinance which will increase the fee for the first time in close to 20 years.

An impact fee is a payment made by residential or non residential developers to mitigate the costs a town accumulates as it expands. The money collected by the town is then used to fund four different areas: recreation, municipalities, fire and transportation networks.

The town council also adopted a new Capital Improvement Plan which is a yearly look at the town’s needs. The money collected from the fees will be used to fund projects in the plan.

Councilman Jim Owens proposed a motion to increase the impact fee to 50 percent of the maximum allowable. It would then increase again in January 2018 and then a 3rd time in July 2018. At that time, Owens says, developers will pay for 80 percent of the impact costs.

The fee hike would result in approximately $750,000 more to develop a new shopping center, and about $900 for breaking ground on single-family home.

“We need to ensure both our residents and business community have a level playing field across the board,” said Owens. “I don’t want a financial burden across the board. I believe this is equitable.”

There was debate about increasing the fees too much. Some feared that it may push away new development. Many citizens and business owners attending Monday’s meeting expressed concern about the costs, saying they were afraid of being priced out. Other members of the council also feared that higher impact fees could shift the cost on homebuyers.

The final ordinance comes after 5 council meetings and other public forums. The final proposal was based on the town’s impact cost analysis, a study commissioned by the town to determine the cost of the recent boom.

The recommendation given ahead of Monday’s meeting was to raise fee to 33 percent of the maximum and 45 percent on transportation fees, but after a special finance committee meeting Owen’s recommendation was adopted.

Development plans that were approved before the ordinance passed will not be subject to the new fee.

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