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Oakwood may explore impact fees
Brown: Theres a cost that goes with growth
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Oakwood is looking at ways to pay for growth, including development impact fees, when the economy rebounds.

"You've got to look at every funding avenue out there for long-range planning," said City Manager Stan Brown. "We're trying to work on an overall strategic plan for the city.

"In doing that, the financial piece is important and impact fees are something we haven't looked at before."

Impact fees were once all the rage, as governments grappled with the costs of growth when the economy was moving along briskly.

Gainesville and Hall County have them. Flowery Branch doesn't but considered them recently before deciding that timing - a down economy plus slow development - wasn't right.

City Manager Stan Brown has talked with City Council members about forming an impact fee advisory committee as the first step to giving the fees a serious look.

He said he foresees getting the committee up and running with three to six months.

"Then, if we want to go that route, we would need to hire a consultant that specializes in that field," Brown said.

But even that act "doesn't mean we're going to make a recommendation (for impact fees)," he said, adding that the city may end up setting aside the issue for now, like Flowery Branch did.

"Ideally, partnering with developers would be our goal, instead of adding more fees," Brown said.

The committee idea partly stems "from the fact that we've restarted our development authority," he added. "The council has charged (that group) with coming up with an economic development strategy. This is one of the pieces of that."

Regardless of what action it takes, the city won't be able to shuck financial obligations.

For one, the city has about $3.5 million debt in the completion of Thurmon Tanner Parkway's final segment connecting Plainview and Mundy Mill roads. The road is set for a Dec. 31 completion.

Plus, the city plans to redevelop the downtown area in stride with its long-range 2030 plan and that eventually will mean additional infrastructure, including roads, sewer and water.

"Our council truly believes that development should pay its own way and we've been able to do that in the past," Brown said.

And there are more pressing needs.

"One of our goals this year is to try to provide more space for the police department," Brown said.

"There's a cost that goes with growth and we've got to make sure it's paid for in such a way that it doesn't put a burden on existing residents," he said. "People already here have paid their share."