Upper Arlington News

Officials eye revised, more expensive city fees

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Upper Arlington officials are eyeing an overhaul to the city's fee structure for building and conditional use permits, site plans, rezoning requests and other development projects.

Legislation for the development fee increases could come before city council as early as next month.

Assistant City Manager Joe Valentino said officials are interested in bringing Upper Arlington's fees in line with those charged in other central Ohio communities, while also offsetting personnel and other costs for the UA building and planning divisions.

"If (the Upper Arlington Development Department) is to be self-sufficient, it should be carried by those who use it," Valentino said. "That being said, the goal of the department is to be self-sufficient, not to make money."

Upper Arlington's building and planning divisions are part of the city's overall development department.

According to a staff report by Valentino, City Manager Ted Staton and UA Development Director Dean Sivinski, which was presented to council during an Oct. 21 conference session, the majority of services provided by the building and planning divisions are tied to permit applications and fees.

The city staff recommended increasing each development fee by varying amounts.

Included among the proposed increases is a recommendation to raise building permit fees from $17.85 per 100 square feet for new builds to $24 per 100 square feet for new residential builds and $26 per 100 square feet for new commercial builds.

That move, the report stated, would increase annual building permit revenues by $52,220.

Other staff recommendations included increasing fees for fence applications from $20 to $50 and raising minor site plan application fees from $189 to $750. Building permits for detached garages would be increased from $15.50 per 150 square feet to $17.50 per square feet as part of the proposed changes.

If all of the fee increases are approved, the staff report stated, they are expected to generate an additional $117,368 for the city's building and planning divisions.

"Both the building division and planning division can be self-sufficient if we raise those fees," Valentino said.

Although council took no legislative action at the conference session, members directed the city staff to craft an ordinance providing for the fee increases for consideration at a regular council meeting.

Some, including council members John Adams and Debbie Johnson, questioned whether the proposed increases go far enough, noting a slow building year could put the building and planning divisions back in the red.

"That's pretty tight," Johnson said. "What I'm worried about is, is this going to be enough if we have a down year?"

Adams said the proposed increases were "still out of balance."

"This is not quite enough," he said.

However, Valentino and Upper Arlington Chief Building Official Roger Eastep cautioned that increasing fees too much could drive residents and others with building projects in the city to "bootleg" or perform the work without seeking permits.

Council's next regular meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28. Council President Don Leach said council likely would hold at least two hearings on the proposal before voting on it.

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