Council misses mark on developer deal
Aug 02, 2012 | 1580 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The nearly $100 million difference in fees that developers proposed for the West Patterson Business Park extension and the fees that city staff sought is striking.

What was perhaps more shocking was that no compromise was reached when the City Council convened Monday, July 30. City Council members opted to require only $40 million in fees to address infrastructure impacts created by the Arambel Business Park and KDN Business Retail Center. While they succeeded in meeting the request of developers, they left city staff members scratching their heads as they ponder how to adequately pay for project impacts beyond the business park’s first phase.

The project’s developers in the past have in essence contended that current developer fee rates appear to be working today, and “if they ain’t broke, don’t fix ’em.”

Indeed, the West Patterson Business Park has been a huge success, attracting several major employers including distribution centers for W.W. Grainger, Longs Drug Stores (now operated by CVS) and Kohl’s as well as a future fulfillment center for Amazon.com.

But that does not mean that developer fees that were approved nearly a decade ago for that project are still adequate for today. Nor does it mean that raising fees to a more appropriate level will deter interest from businesses.

Representatives from companies that have moved to the West Patterson Business Park in the recent past have touted Patterson’s location and the cooperation of city staff more often than its low developer fees.

Of course, sky-high developer fees also would be a deterrent to businesses, but so would project delays stemming from inadequate funding. City staff members fear there will not be enough money to address project impacts on traffic and sewer and water needs.

City staff’s proposal to require $139 million in fees was likely too high, but it seems there still could have been a reasonable compromise.

Council members have truly taken a gamble by agreeing to only $40 million in developer fees. For the sake of the city, we hope it pays off.

This project could provide more than 10,000 jobs and more than $7 million in annual tax revenue, and it deserves to be done right.

Only time will tell whether developers are truly paying their fair share to the city, but the council should have spent more time analyzing these fees to make sure they will suffice.

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