As Brookhaven continues to grow, city officials are looking at finding ways of covering the higher costs new developments impose on public facilities such as “the three Ps” — paving, police and parks.
City staff members are researching impact fees in other municipalities, said city spokesperson Burke Brennan. He said it’s too early to have hard data on what the fees could be or how much could be raised.
Mayor John Ernst said city impact fees are “something we are always looking at.”
“I suspect we’ll have a more formal discussion this year,” he said.
Sandy Springs City Council last year raised its impact fees on residential and commercial developments, and a study showed the city could reap up to $300 million by 2040 for parks, transportation and public safety.
Ernst said he liked the idea that Sandy Springs dedicated money from impact fees to pay for sidewalks throughout the city and could see something like that in Brookhaven’s future.
“I’m opposed to impact fees going to the general fund — they need to go to a stated purpose,” he said.
In Sandy Springs, last year’s new residential fees were boosted by more than 300 to 500 percent, to up to $6,854 on houses and condos. The fee structure also includes exemptions, described as “affordable housing,” that are intended to encourage middle-income “workforce” housing and the demolition of older apartment complexes to replace them with ownership developments. Other fees apply to commercial, office and other types of development.
Dunwoody City Council also is looking at possibly implementing impact fees in the near future. The topic was raised at the council’s February retreat and council members have asked for a formal presentation from city staff members on what impact fees could do.
The Dunwoody council voted in 2011 against implementing impact fees. A report given to city officials at the time said that, based on projects already then on the books, the city could bring in $6.4 million in fees over 13 years to help pay for $29.1 million in projects for the parks, transportation and police departments.
In Brookhaven, Councilmember Joe Gebbia has said he supports assessing impact fees on developers to assist with workforce housing, especially along Buford Highway. The city’s Affordable Housing Task Force, formed late last year, is expected to make a presentation to the City Council, perhaps later this month, to address a proposed policy on how to define and incentivize affordable housing.
A study presented to the Sandy Springs City Council showed that under the city’s previous fee rates, the highest total impact fee for a new residential unit in Sandy Springs was about $1,646. That was higher than Atlanta’s, which is about $1,500, but Milton and Roswell may charge over $4,000 and Alpharetta may charge nearly $6,500.
Ernst said no specific numbers for Brookhaven have been discussed, but if impact fees were to be eventually levied against new development, they would have to go toward such things as stormwater mitigation and sidewalks.
“Staff is doing the preliminary work on this for offsetting the impact of development on existing stakeholders, but no recommendation has been made to myself or council at this time,” Ernst said.