Thursday, June 3, 2004

Fees would pay for growth

Hamilton Twp. looks at tacking charge on new houses

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP - Warren County's latest hot spot for new homes wants the growth to pay its own way.

Trustees voted Wednesday to hire Michigan-based McKenna Associates, a community planning firm that has an office in Lebanon, to study mandatory impact fees. The money raised would pay for roads, parks and possibly other improvements needed to accommodate the new residents.

"As far as I'm concerned, road improvements are No. 1 on the list," Trustee O.T. Bishop said.

Home-ruled Hamilton Township is the only township in Warren County with an impact fee on each housing unit. The voluntary fees, imposed on subdivisions zoned as planned-unit developments, traditionally run $250 per housing unit for schools and $200 for parks.

The impact fees the township is considering would be applied to homes in all zoning areas.

The study, which township trustees said must not exceed $5,000, is expected to take two to three months, and will start after the township completes a reference check. It should identify what steps the township must take.

"It's not a quick process, but if you want to get started, that's what it entails," Zoning Administrator Gary Boeres said.

"We're going to have to do it," Trustee Clyde Baston said of the study. "We need to do something for our roads."

Hamilton Township, the fastest growing of Warren's 11 townships, has taken heat from county commissioners and township residents who want to see growth better managed. County commissioners have suggested a moratorium on building, but township trustees have been lukewarm to that idea.

Advocates of impact fees see them as a way to curtail the growth or at least to raise money for the additional public services needed. Commissioners have proposed impact fees as high as $10,000 per home, but need a state lawmaker to craft legislation to give counties the authority. State Rep. Michelle Schneider, R-Madeira, says a committee is researching whether there is a fee that everyone, including developers, would agree with.

Clearcreek Township in northern Warren County also has discussed impact fees, but would need to become a home-ruled township to impose them. Voters turned down that switch in November.


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