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City Council could sacrifice $4 million in system development revenue to attract new apartments.

SCREENSHOT COURTESY METROEAST - Fairview Councilor Brian Cooper (far right) gestures after the citys Vacant Land Development Incentive Programs deadline was extended without public comment on Wednesday, April 4.  Fairview City Council has authorized a new deadline for a program that waives local infrastructure fees to help spur new construction.

Builders will now have until June 30 to submit a land-use application that qualifies for the fee waiver, rather than have their paperwork finalized and approved by that date. The overall sunset for the program — set to occur one year later on June 30, 2019 — has not changed.

"There's been some time adjustment on the internal deadlines," noted City Administrator Nolan Young.

The changes to the city's Vacant Land Development Incentive Program were approved 6 to 1 during a council meeting on Wednesday, April 4. Councilor Brian Cooper was the lone "no" vote.

The incentives allow builders investing more than $675,000 to skip out on paying the city's four System Development Charges (SDCs) that fund improvements to parks, sewage, stormwater and drinking water. Those investing less than $675,000 only pay one SDC.

Officials expect the program to attract hundreds of new apartments, which will cause the city to forgo millions in development charges. The projects will still pay property tax, but the new yearly revenue will be a far lower amount.

"I don't understand the math of giving away millions of dollars for hundreds of thousands (of dollars) in income," commented Jeff Dennerline. "I don't think you need to just throw money at people and say, 'Hey, come build. We've got vacant land.'"

Dennerline, a Fairview resident for the past 15 years, said appropriate incentives would include streamlining the application process and creating synergies for like-minded businesses.

"Since we live in one of the few areas that has an urban growth boundary — guess what — at some point someone will come knocking on the door in Fairview," the broadcast engineer continued.

Operating costs for Fairview's drinking water system are currently eating into city coffers, prompting the council to consider a potential 86-cent increase to its stormwater fund utility charge on May 2.

The rate hike is not directly linked to the incentive package, because development charges exclusively flow toward capital improvements that create a new pipe or park where none was before. This utility charge increase is targeting the cost of regular wear and tear.

It's unclear how many developers will take advantage of the new deadline, though officials previously pegged the lost SDC revenue at about $4 million.

Since then, one source at Fairview City Hall says the building department has received very preliminary plans for a new commercial development on Sandy Boulevard in the area south of Northeast Townsend Way.

"Unless they've been through the pre-application process, I'm reluctant to talk about potential development," Administrator Young told The Outlook. "We don't share that information because of the competitive edge that it gives developers."

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