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Fairview takes second look at incentive program

Since the passage of a program to help develop vacant land in Fairview, only one developer has applied to have city fees waived.

The program was approved last November after months of debate and revisions. Estimates of what could be waived for multifamily developments, however, caused the council to discuss the program once again at its Feb. 17 meeting.

Under the current program, said Mayor Ted Tosterud, waiving fees for an 180-unit apartment complex could be more than $1.2 million.

“That was a piece of discussion that was never brought to us,” Tosterud said.

But with only a few proposed language changes, most of the council didn’t have an issue with the potentially large waivers.

“This is an investment in our future,” said Councilor Natalie Voruz. “I’m willing to spend a little money in the long term.”

Although Tosterud was initially against the potential for such large waivers, Councilor Brian Cooper was the only dissenting vote when it came time to approve the few changes to the program.

“I don’t see the benefits citizens get. I see the benefits developers get and it is huge,” Cooper said. “This is so heavy handed that to me it’s just shocking that we’re moving forward. Who’s going to bear the brunt of this? The citizens of Fairview.”

There was some debate concerning if multifamily developments were considered when the program was approved in November. While Cooper said having an estimate to what a large development could cost the city requires a change to the program — perhaps a cap to incentives — Councilor Ed Bejarana was adamant that had already been addressed.

“I had the numbers, there was no question in my mind what this was going to cost,” Bejarana said.

The council’s minutes do not show a distinct discussion on multifamily developments, which carry a larger waiver under the simple structure outlined in the program. While earlier drafts of the incentive program included either a set fee waiver or a lower limit, the current program waives fees by a percent of the building’s value.

The program waives business license fees for the first year of operation, as well as a maximum credit of .75 percent of the building value, which is applied to the building permit fee, the building plan review fee, and the fire, life and safety plan review fee. All system development charges (park, water, sewer and storm water) are also waived. Approved in the amended resolution was the removal of the word “business” from the program’s title, as well as the business distinction for applicants. The program is now more broad, simply providing incentives to anyone looking to develop vacant land in Fairview.

Tosterud said he changed his mind about the program after listening to the other councilors.

“I thought it was in the best interest for the city to vote for it,” he said.

Because there have been only two applications for the incentives, two single-family homes from builder DA Grey, the council did approve a $5,000 budget to market the program. That money will be spent on advertising and brochures to distribute to developers.

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