Wednesday, November 17, 1999

Builders argue against proposed Middletown fees




BY JANET C. WETZEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIDDLETOWN - During a public hearing Tuesday regarding proposed sewer and water tap-in fees, a builder representing 14 local developers told city commissioners the city should be looking for growth incentives, not deterrents.

        Wayne Gabbard said he and other developers are already paying their share of development costs.

        “We're in a soft market, having trouble moving our product,” Mr. Gabbard said. “Most homes being built in Middletown now are for the working man — $90,000 to $110,000. These fees would have a significant impact on people wanting to buy these homes.”

        If developers are forced to pay the proposed $1,500 each for sewer and water tap-in fees for new residential property, already slow development could suffer more, Mr. Gabbard said.

        He said Middletown's ideal location should spell extensive growth, but communities such as Springboro, Mason and Trenton are enjoying more development.

        Mr. Gabbard said developers must spend thousands to put in water, sewer, and streets in new developments. “That should be enough,” he said, “but developers would feel a $500 fee acceptable.”

        Commissioner Jerry Banks said the developers' concerns are under standable.

        “It's encouraging to see developers offer a compromise on this,” Mr. Banks said.

        City officials argued that Middletown is one of the few remaining municipalities in the area that have not implemented such fees.

        And without such fees on new users, existing users must bear the cost of upgrades and expansions, commissioners say.

        The fees would be implemented Jan. 1 and bring about $600,000 annually into the city.

        The estimated revenue is based on past building permits issued, but that could increase with fees from large commercial and industrial develop ments.

        The fees may be waived or reduced as credits for developments creating new jobs. And fees will be waived for developments under way by specified deadlines.

        Commissioners also approved an agreement with Horne Properties Inc. of Knoxville, Tenn., for road work that will help clear the way for Middletown Crossings II, an estimated $20 million development.

        The city will pay about $3.3 million of the $4.2 million road work, which includes extending Towne Boulevard to Hendrickson Road. The developer, who plans to build on about one-third of the 165 acres in the Crossings area, will pay the balance.

       



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