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Decatur aims to establish impact fee program

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Decatur aims to establish impact fee program

Decatur City Hall.

Decatur, GA — The city of Decatur wants to use impact fees to offset the impact of new developments on the city’s infrastructure.

On Monday, Oct. 5, the Decatur City Commission discussed an upcoming community input session about creating the impact fee program.

The rationale behind impact fees is that new developments mean new residents, which increases the local burden on services like fire, transportation, recreation, and police. Impact fees would compensate the city for the cost of providing more services.

Caroline Evans, a community planner and founder of the Blue Cypress Consulting Group, presented the plans for the impact fee study to the Commissioners.

“The city’s end goal on this project is the adoption and implementation of both a capital improvement element and an impact fee ordinance in preparation for the next fiscal year,” Evans said.

According to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, the Georgia Development Impact Fee Act became law in 1990.

“It sets rules for local governments that wish to charge new development for a portion of the additional capital facilities needed to serve it,” the Department of Community Affairs Website says. “Under DIFA, local governments may impose exactions on developers to help finance the expansion of their infrastructure systems only through an impact fee system and only for the specific types of facilities and infrastructures listed in the law.”

One of the goals of the Impact Fee Act is to, “Promote orderly growth and development by establishing uniform standards by which municipalities and counties may require that new growth and development pay a proportionate share of the cost of new public facilities needed to serve new growth and development.”

The Decatur impact fee study is planned to take place over the next six to eight months.

John Maximuk, Director of Design, Environment & Construction for the City of Decatur, said an impact fee program is “a program offered by the state under certain conditions to collect additional fees that account for community services that come from new development.”

Impact fee programs are different based on which kind of development is happening — for example, a business tower would have a different program than 100 new homes. Decatur, as a city, is more likely to build new homes than to build a large business park or a stadium. Impact fee programs have been successfully used in other communities across the state and the country, but they are not used in every city.

Decatur’s impact fee program will depend on community input.

“The people who live, work, and play in the city of Decatur are the main constituents targeted by the public outreach portion of this project,” Maximuk said. “Efforts will be made to ensure that all citizens, including traditionally underserved communities (minority and low-income populations), will be informed of the project, updated on the progress, and allowed a chance to provide feedback throughout the life of the project.”

The majority of communication about this study will be virtual due to the ongoing pandemic. A two-pronged engagement approach will be used to target both stakeholders and the wider community.

An impact fee advisory committee will be developed in November and will include members from real estate, building, and development communities as well as other relevant city of Decatur stakeholders.

The general public will be invited to virtually attend two state-mandated public hearings held by the City Commission, as well as all four advisory committee meetings.

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