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Flowery Branch seeks more info on impact fees
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The Flowery Branch City Council also voted Thursday night to approve:

A tax rate of 2.837 mills, which hasn’t changed in the past five years. The vote was expected with the city’s passage of the 2010-11 budget in June. One mill equals $1 per $1,000 in assessed property value, with property assessed at 40 percent. Final approval is set for Aug. 26.

An ordinance setting the special election for mayor and the Post 4 council seat for Nov. 2. Qualifying would take place Sept. 27-29. Final approval of the ordinance is set for Aug. 26.

A contract with Fifth Row Center, a South Hall community theater group, to lease a city-owned building on Main Street for office and rehearsal space, as well as room for possible small-group performances.

Applying for a federal planning grant with Buford, Braselton and Oakwood.

Changing the city’s alcoholic beverage law allowing open containers at city-sanctioned events.

Appointing a public defender for Flowery Branch Municipal Court, which meets twice a month.

Jeff Gill

Flowery Branch City Council didn't promptly dismiss development impact fees Thursday night, although it didn't warmly embrace them.

The council directed city staff to gather more information on the concept and bring their findings to a future meeting.

"Right now, impact fees may not be feasible, but we do have a need for certain things, so let's at least examine them a little further," Councilman Kris Yardley said.

The direction came after a presentation by City Planner James Riker and the city's consultant on the matter, Jerry Weitz of Gainesville-based Weitz & Associates.

Impact fees were at one time a popular method of collecting revenues from developers to help pay for certain publicly funded needs, such as water and sewer, rather than shifting the entire burden for those services on all taxpayers.

Hall County and Gainesville, among other governments through metro Atlanta, adopted them before the economy began its downturn. Impact fees haven't made as much noise since then, with elected officials worried that developers would be further discouraged to build homes or retail centers.

Flowery Branch has raised the issue as part of its efforts to update the city's comprehensive plan, which was last adopted in 2006.

The state requires local governments to update such plans every five years, with Flowery Branch set to complete its update in early 2011.

The council held a public hearing on the comprehensive plan Thursday.

Riker, in response to a question raised by an audience member during the hearing, said that if Flowery Branch approved impact fees, developers would have to pay those along with fees already imposed by Hall County.

In presenting the information to council members, he said, "I know it's a lot (of information) to handle tonight. We just weren't sure whether there was a temperature to even want to (go forward)."

City officials noted that neither Buford nor Oakwood have impact fees.

"If we have impact fees, that could make developers decide they want to go there and build," Councilman Chris Fetterman said.

Riker acknowledged that, saying, "It is an odd economic time. I don't know of a lot of communities that are thinking about impact fees right now."

"That's what I'm getting at," Fetterman said.

"I do think that when we consider what's happening in our city, it is sometimes difficult to do comparisons because we have different issues," Riker said.