Do we really need a new law? Or another study for impact fees?
Currently, about 33 cities and counties across Georgia levy impact fees. Can all these cities and counties be wrong and "unfair"? These cities and counties did not waste time for any new laws. Their leaders expected the developers/new homeowners to pay their share for infrastructure needs. Impact fees for roads will free up capital funds needed for schools. Impact fees should be a component of a capital funds budget.
Recently, a committee decided impact fees are unfair and complex and that further studies are needed. It is disappointing that none of our developers in this committee supported the need for any impact fee. Understandably, developers are reluctant to give up any of their profit margin.
For a different perspective about the cost of developments for local governments, please see studies done at UGA (http://landuse.uga.edu): "While residential developments bring with it new tax revenue, it also brings demand for local government services. The cost of providing these services exceeds the revenue generated by the new houses in every case that has been studied." Our commissioners can alleviate some of this burden by implementing impact fees for transportation, stormwater management and/or parks.
Last year, Columbia County surpassed 100,000 population. With our rapid growth, we will be getting more attention than ever. We are no longer the hick town we used to be, and it is time for our elected officials to plan accordingly. But we are still a bedroom community. Most of us drive to Augusta or Aiken for our jobs. Growth is inevitable and our roads are congested, especially in the morning and after work. The region's long-range plan forecasts, "Columbia County would experience severe traffic congestion and capacity shortage than any other counties within the regional transportation network." We must preserve the quality of life that attracted all of us to Columbia County. ...
It is time for our commissioners to take bold decision about growth and who pays part of the expense for the roads, soil erosion and stormwater management. ... New growth should pay its share for infrastructure as in other towns in Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Illinois, Arizona, California, etc.
Recently, County opened an elegant and state-of-the-art library. The "Miracle on Belair" happened due to the vision and diligent planning of many concerned citizens and our elected officials about six years ago. Similarly, many citizens along with this newspaper already recognize the need for impact fees. It is time for our commissioners to raise the bar against sprawl and for quality of life issues. We have an opportunity to become one of the premier communities in Georgia. Will our elected officials have the vision to lead us there?
Michael Moosariparambil, Martinez
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