In last night’s (10/7/08) Albemarle County Planning Commission meeting, Community Development Director Mark Graham presented a proposal to increase fees for subdividing land. Brandon Shulleeta of the Daily Progress has the story:
The Albemarle Planning Commission heard a recommendation Tuesday from county staff to more than triple fees for developers under a subdivision ordinance. But some commissioners said the county should consider increasing the fees more than six-fold.
The rationale for such an increase hinges on the Planning Commission’s desire to recoup all the administrative expenses associated with processing the application from the applicant. In their view, the subdivision of land benefits only the applicant thus the applicant should bear the entirety of the cost of processing the application.
The Free Enterprise Forum philosophically disagrees with this position.
When ordinances and policies are crafted regarding the subdivision of land, the majority of the concerns are for the benefit of neighboring parcels and the community at large. With this as a starting point, the level of complexity of the subdivision ordinance has increased dramatically over the last fifteen years. The Free Enterprise Forum has written extensively regarding the Cost of Complexity and the need for regular regulatory review/reform.
To clarify, the subdivision ordinance is used to exercise a parcel’s “By Right” divisions under the existing zoning. There are very real costs to administering the subdivision ordinance but it is much more than just the landowner that is benefiting from the process.
As a part of this comprehensive fee review, earlier this year the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors enacted new building inspection fees. The Supervisors discussed that the inspections served far more than just the applicant but also protected future owners and visitors to commercial space. The point was that the community shares in the benefit thus the community should share in the cost of administering the inspections.
The Free Enterprise Forum agrees with The Board of Supervisors’ (and staff’s) assesment and suggests the Planning Commission reconsider their proposed cost allocation to more appropriately share the cost between the applicant and the community.