Friday, February 16, 2007
Planning Board hikes fees
Many application and special permit fees charged by the Planning Board were roughly doubled at their February 12 meeting. Chair David Freedman said that after discussions with the Finance Committee, the Planning Board reviewed its fee structure prior to voting the increases. Criteria examined were a comparison with "peer towns" and the cost to the town for staff to process specific types of applications and permits. Board Administrator George Mansfield said, "Fees go into the town General Fund and are not used directly to pay staff salaries." Freedman agreed but said that each fee should "more accurately reflect the amount of time that staff spends doing them." The last such review was in 2003.
There are several nuances in the new fee structure. Some items that the board tends to encourage were left at prior levels, for example, applications for Accessory Apartments. Applications for a new common driveway were only increased by 50%. Freedman said, "Often we want to encourage a common driveway."
Board member Greg Peterson had one caution regarding the increase from $100 to $200 for an ANR plan (Approval Not Required). He said, "An ANR plan can be a common tool for land conservation. Imposing high fees could discourage some land conservation." Mansfield added, "Many ANR plans are submitted by individual land owners to straighten out a problem." In discussion the board concluded that it always has the option of reducing or waiving the fee on a case-by-case basis.
Further, the board has introduced a new element in the fee structure — "a per lot fee" is added to the basic fee for such items as a Conservation Cluster or a Subdivision. For example, the fee for a Conservation Cluster Special Permit was $1,000 regardless of the number of lots involved. Now the fee will be $750 plus $100 per lot. The fee for a Preliminary Plan for a Subdivision was $250, and is increased to $500 plus $100 per lot. After submitting a Preliminary Plan, the cost to submit a Definitive Plan was $1,000 and is increased to $2,500 plus $500 per lot.
Several new items have been added to the fee structure: $200 to release each lot as work is completed on a subdivision, $100 for a Scenic Road Hearing, and $1,000 for a Subdivision Amendment with an additional $1,000 per lot.
For the entire fee schedule, contact the Planning Board Office at Town Hall.
© 2007 The