Development charges set to take effect

Fees pay for increased demand for municipal services

Newly-calculated development charges in Norfolk will add $2,600 to the cost of a new home in the urban zone and $702 to new homes in rural areas. Monte Sonnenberg / Simcoe Refomer

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Norfolk’s new development charges will kick in sometime this fall.

Norfolk council was poised to adopt the new fee schedule July 1. However, it opted Tuesday for a delay at the request of the Haldimand-Norfolk Home Builders Association.

Association representative Sam Bunting said many builders sell a home six months before it is constructed. The new, higher charges would reduce the profitability of projects slated for this summer if they were imposed July 1, Bunting told council.

As a compromise, Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus said the new charges should kick in Oct. 1 or later. That, he said, counts as fair warning.

Beyond the proposed start date, Bunting said his membership has no problem with the new fee schedule or the process engaged to arrive at it.

“It was encouraging to hear how detailed your thoughts were around comparisons with other municipalities and on development charges for industrial properties,” Bunting told council. “We actually don’t have many concerns around the report. It’s very professional; very thorough.”

Development charges are the fees municipalities charge builders and developers for the new demands their projects make on municipal services and infrastructure.

Charges cover the cost of increased demand for roads, fire protection, parking, green space, recreation facilities, libraries, ambulance, waste management, county administration and marinas.

In urban areas, these charges also account for water and wastewater infrastructure.

Development charges are typically reviewed every five years. The current fee schedule dates to Jan. 1, 2015.

The proposed development charge for a single-family dwelling in Norfolk is $17,206 in an urban zone and $5,778 in rural areas. The current charges are $14,615 and $5,076 respectively.

Norfolk has the option of imposing a development charge on industrial projects but chooses not to do so to attract employment. Interim CAO Harry Schlange says municipalities have this option and many choose to exercise it. He recommended Norfolk County stick with the status quo.

“This waiver of the development charge helps you get employment,” Schlange said. “You’d be at a competitive disadvantage if you didn’t provide this exemption.”

Norfolk’s development charge review began in January, 2018.

Treasurer James Johnson chaired a steering committee that included senior representatives from other county divisions. Collecting data and offering guidance was economics consulting firm Watson and Associates of Mississauga.

In his presentation to council, Watson senior project co-ordinator Peter Simcisko said Norfolk needs to plan for a population of 69,600 by 2041. Watson and Associates pegs the current population at 65,500.

As well, Watson and Associates estimates there will be 30,500 “dwelling units” in Norfolk by 2041. Currently, there are 26,800.

The consultant estimates there will be 18,500 jobs in Norfolk by 2041. The current number is about 17,150.

The mandatory public meeting for the outcome of these deliberations was held at Tuesday’s council meeting. Adoption of the required bylaw will occur in June.

When the final draft comes back, Charlottesville Coun. Chris Van Paassen would like the line item for marina development deleted. Left as is, this item will contribute $412 toward the cost of a residential development charge.

Van Paassen pointed out that the county marina in Port Dover is profitable. Port Rowan Coun. Tom Masschaele added that the county marina in Port Rowan does not make money.

Regardless, Van Paassen said buyers of new homes who will never set foot in a boat should not have to support facilities that cater to the well-to-do.

“I’m not going to have every new household pay so someone can keep a very expensive boat in our marinas,” Van Paassen said.

A number of different developments are exempt from development charges in Norfolk. These will be carried forward in the new bylaw.

Along with industrial projects, exemptions include “roofed accommodation” for overnight tourists, temporary structures, bunk houses, farm-related businesses, affordable housing, parking lots, places of worship, development within central business districts, and developments on designated brownfield sites.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com

 

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