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City considers new development fees

 

Last updated 11/23/2020 at 2:11pm

Karin Hill

Cracked streets like this one in the Cross Creek subdivision are abundant in Fountain. A new proposal to require developers to pay additional fees for streets might help with street maintenance in future neighborhoods.

The city of Fountain is taking steps to implement a series of fees on new residential and commercial construction designed to help fund future public safety facilities and road maintenance.

The City Council approved the "impact fees" on first reading last week; they would go into effect after a second reading in the near future, if approved then.

"These fees will help offset that cost for the rapid development we experience," Fire Chief James Maxon said.

Maxon added that many other cities including Colorado Springs already have such fees in place, and that the proposal had been explained to the local homebuilders' association with no comments returned yet.

"This is what's already going on in other places," he said.

The fees would add an average of $820 for fire and $820 for police to each new home started after the ordinance's final approval. It would not affect homes already in progress.

A similar measure for commercial and industrial construction would involve a two one-time fees of 26 cents per square foot of development within a building for fire and police. Maxon noted it would not apply to a restaurant expanding its outdoor patio area and similar situations.

"This is how growth pays its way," Mayor Gabe Ortega said.

Lastly, the council approved a resolution setting up an interim Road Impact Fee to match what the county already has in place. It, too, will only affect new construction at $3,830 per lot for single-family residential; $2,407 for multi-family; $2,806 per hotel/motel room; $4,958 per 1,000 square feet of general commercial space; and various other degrees for different types of development.

It is designated as interim for now because the city intends to address it on a more permanent basis in an update of the Master Transportation Plan.

Deputy City Manager Todd Evans noted that this fee will not solve the city's current road problems, such as far too many streets in residential neighborhoods like Heritage and Cross Creek that need to be fixed, but it will ensure monies are in place to maintain roads in future developments or help the city with any large capital improvements that may be necessitated by such new developments.

Also last Tuesday, the council approved on first reading an ordinance amending certain sections of the Zoning Code pertaining to chickens, driveways and curb cuts, signs, and other items.

Although city staff said many of the issues were minor organizational issues or clarifications - the number of hens allowed by the city isn't changing, for example - they conceded the section on curbs and driveways was more significant. They insisted the changes are necessary despite some residents' concerns that the amendments would infringe on personal property rights.

The reason is that a number of residents have been using non-permitted access points onto their property instead of the primary driveway - often for RVs or other large vehicles and storage. These often result in damage to existing sidewalks, curbs, storm water flow and other infrastructure.

"All of these are supposed to be permitted, but very few actually are," Evans said.

The proposal says, "In residential areas, only one access approach or curb cut is permitted unless the property is greater than one-half acre in size. All secondary access approaches or curb cuts permits will be reviewed by the City Engineer."

"In some cases they are trying to control it like a private drive when, in fact, it is a public right-of-way," Evans explained. He showed numerous photo examples of such situations that have resulted in damage or eyesores to surrounding neighbors. These cases often end up involving multiple city departments including Streets, Code Enforcement and Engineering, and become time-consuming and costly to address.

Although a majority of the Planning Commission was not in favor of this particular item, it has passed on first reading by council. A second reading will be held in coming weeks.

Other council actions

The council also approved on second reading an ordinance to amend the minimum street grades and intersection grades in the city from 0.5 percent to 1 percent in an effort to improve drainage and road integrity.

The council voted to appoint the following individuals to the newly formed Fountain Youth Council:

• Jason Martinez

• Antonio Martinez

• Deylen Duncan

• Vanessa Wilkerson

• Vivian Corriea

Council Member Detra Duncan, who is spearheading this organization, noted the group is holding its first event: a scarf and hat drive. Items will be collected in boxes at City Hall, Utilities Customer Service, and Fountain Police Department now through Dec. 31 to be distributed to those in need.

In other business, the council voted to approve:

A beer and wine liquor license for Arashi Sushi Hibachi and Grill, LLC, which is slated to open near the corner of Fountain Mesa Road and Cross Creek Creek Avenue in the coming weeks.

First reading of an ordinance to rezone 14.7 acres owned by Fountain Sanitation District at the southwest corner of Old Pueblo and Link roads from Planned Unit Development (PUD) to Small Office (SO) district.

The council moved up its second meeting of the month from the week of Thanksgiving to Nov. 17, during which it had first reading of the ordinance setting the 2021 budget. Similarly, the council will have next month's meetings on Dec. 8 and 15 due to the holidays.

 

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