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Gainesville City Council hears only one objection to hiking impact fees
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Frank Norton Jr., CEO and chairman of The Norton Agency - photo by David Barnes

The Gainesville City Council held its first hearing on a proposed impact fee increase on Tuesday, with one community member -- the owner of a local real estate agency -- expressing concerns.

The impact fee would rise to $2,802.91 per new residential dwelling unit from the current $1,589.

Impact fees are one-time charges for new construction that are primarily used to fund capital projects for libraries, parks and public safety. Past projects funded by impact fees include a firing range for the police department, a ladder truck for the fire department and an outdoor playground at the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center.

City Manager Bryan Lackey said when the program began, it largely funded parks, but it has evolved. The majority of the increase, about $1,000 of the nearly $1,200 increase would fund projects or equipment for the police and fire departments, he said.

Proposed future uses for the impact fee are a new fire station and expanded public safety facilities.

Frank Norton Jr., CEO of The Norton Agency, said there is a need for affordable housing in Gainesville, and people who work in the city are being priced out and having to move elsewhere.

“Gainesville is in desperate need for affordable housing,” Norton said.

Fees, ordinances, zoning conditions, design standards and construction costs can be barriers to affordable housing, Norton said.

The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and millage rates are alternative sources for funding capital projects, Norton said.

“Today, I’m here in concern with adding an added burden in impact on building the average house or apartment and pushing that further out of reach of the Gainesville citizen,” Norton said.

The impact fee program was established in Gainesville in 2006 and fees have not changed since then.

A second hearing will be held May 21, and council members will vote at that meeting.

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