Higher impact fees adopted
On July 10, builders will start paying higher fees to compensate for the additional traffic their constructions are expected to generate.
In addition, automotive dealer Matt Weaver got approval on a reimbursement plan for the signal he is building for the city – one of the last hurdles he needs to jump before completing construction – though he said a clause in the contract making him liable for the signal is “unfair.”
After months of study and wrangling over the development impact fees for local traffic impacts, Grass Valley City Council unanimously approved a new fee schedule late Tuesday.
“This hasn’t been an easy process for me or the building industry,” said Barbara Bashall, director of the Nevada County Contractors Association.
But the spokeswoman for the people who will pay those fees praised city engineer Tim Kiser for handling the work “in a professional manner.”
The new fee schedule is expected to be revised again in about two years, after the city has completed a traffic study that will help it calculate the impacts of new construction more accurately. At that time, Bashall said, the city needs to shift more of the fees from commercial building to residential building.
“Commercial is at the upper end of what it can take,” Bashall said.
The impact fees collect money for projects designed to deal with the impacts of new growth.
Included in the list of projects is the city’s $1.4 million roundabout slated for the intersection of Idaho-Maryland Road, East Main Street and the Golden Center Freeway. Council members agreed to include that project after the Nevada County Transportation Commission last week refused to increase its own fees for the roundabout on an interim basis while it is updating its own impact fee schedule.
NCTC is expected to revisit the fee increase at its May 17 meeting, said Councilwoman Patti Ingram. She is the city’s appointee to the commission.
In other matters, council members approved the reimbursement agreement for the $394,000 traffic light that Weaver and Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital are building for the city.
They approved the agreement over Weaver’s protest regarding a clause that requires him to hold the city harmless if someone sues for damages for injuries connected to the signal.
“I’m giving the city a six-and-a-half-year, interest-free loan,” Weaver said. “I’m building a city project and handing it back to the city. To leave me hanging with liability when I’m not even responsible for deciding how the design goes down … I just don’t see the fairness in that.”
City attorney Ruthann Ziegler said such indemnity clauses are very common, but that lawsuits would likely include everyone anyway.
“What is the fairness of holding Weaver harmless when the city doesn’t have any more control over it than you do?” Ziegler said. “That’s what insurance is for.”
The state Department of Transportation has imposed the design, but won’t accept liability for the signal design either, Ingram said.
The signal, at the intersection of Idaho-Maryland Road and Railroad Avenue, is a condition for both Weaver’s new lot on Idaho-Maryland and the hospital’s expansion nearby. After their reimbursement, they will have paid for 20.5 percent of the cost, or nearly $81,000.
Caltrans will pay $120,000 because it is considered a part-owner of projects near its freeways. The city will pass that money on to Weaver after the signal is built. Weaver said he expects it to be completed in October.
Weaver estimated more than 50 employees and friends attended the meeting in support.
To contact staff writer Trina Kleist, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4231.
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