City Council to decide whether to toss nonresidential impact fees

  • Council members and city officials applaud Concord Mayor Jim Bouley after he was sworn in for the new term, and just before the council had their own swearing-in at City Council Chambers on Monday, January 6, 2014. (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)Council members and city officials applaud Concord Mayor Jim Bouley after he was sworn in for a new term, and just before the council had their own swearing-in in council chambers last night. Four new members made up the largest freshman class since 2007. Will Parson

Monitor staff
Sunday, October 08, 2017

In an effort to better attract commercial development, the Concord City Council will be mulling whether to get rid of transportation impact fees for nonresidential uses at Tuesday’s meeting.

Carlos Baía, the city’s deputy city manager of development, said the move would be the city’s latest effort to make Concord – which he said is anecdotally viewed as being too far north to be economically viable – more attractive to developers.

And although nonresidential impact fees have raised more than $1 million over the last 10 years, Baía said removing the fees has the potential to greatly increase the city’s tax base revenue.

“If we don’t get a project because the impact fees are too steep, then we don’t get the impact fee or the tax base,” he said. “The Fiscal Policy Advisory Committee felt that it makes more sense to incentivize growth.”

If approved, the decision would amend the existing Impact Fee ordinance, which was enacted in the early 2000s, according to a report put together by Baía, when the “development economy was much stronger and the community chose to seek financial concessions from developments to offset impacts on local roads, bridges, parks, and schools.”

Since then, the ordinance has undergone changes: In 2013, the council eliminated the triggering of an impact fee due to a change of use for ground floor commercial in the Central Business Performance District (CBP), and also provided a waiver mechanism from transportation and school impact fees for market rate residential development in existing structures also in the CBP.

According to Baía, Concord is one of the few cities of its size in the state to charge nonresidential impact fees. Portsmouth has no impact fees whatsoever, and while Manchester and Nashua do have fees, they are much lower, while Dover, Laconia and Salem do. However, the latter communities are much cheaper to develop in; a 14,000-square-foot retail building in Dover costs $10,360, according to city data. In Laconia, that number is $41,720; in Salem, it’s $45,080.

In Concord, the number is $63,140, a fee Baía said has caused the city to lose projects before.

Traditionally, the nonresidential impact fees have been used to help pay for increasing the city’s infrastructure capacity through projects like roundabouts and intersection improvements, Baía said.

Additionally, the council will be deciding whether to discontinue the school impact fees, since the Concord High School expansion bond was paid off this year. Any school fees collected between July 1 and Aug. 30 of this year are in the process of being refunded, he said.

The resolution will go before a public hearing before a decision is made. The city council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)