Miami OKs new impact fees for developers
By Deserae del Campo
Miami commissioners last week approved new impact fees designed to add city parks and greenspace, hiking new residences' costs as much as $8,000 each in the process.
The fees passed 4-1, with Angel Gonzalez dissenting.
"This will impact a lot of people and impact development in the city," Commissioner Gonzalez said. "My problem with this is the time limit imposed for this ordinance. I don't feel comfortable with it. I vote no."
"What we're doing here is creating a much better community for development and more greenspace that will create a livable city," said Commissioner Johnny Winton.
There was some opposition during the hearing.
Adrienne L. Pardo, a member of the Builders Association of South Florida and an attorney with Greenberg Traurig, sought to extend the application deadline for building permits to qualify under the old fee rates from Jan. 15 to July 15.
Jan. 15 is too soon for developers to get permits, a process that can take six to seven months, Ms. Pardo said.
Under an earlier version of the legislation, developers that applied by the Jan. 15 deadline would have had only two months thereafter to get all the required permits from the city to qualify under the old fees.
"We were asking the city for a six-month period of time because the pervious two-month period to get the permits was too short," said Truly Burton, government affairs director for the Builders Association of South Florida.
But an amendment to the fee changes was added last week, so any completed plans handed to the city's Building and Zoning Department before Jan. 15 will be subject to the lower fees, and there is no two-month deadline thereafter to obtain building permits.
"The amendment surrounded only the definition of a complete set of building plans," said Alicia Cuervo Schreiber, chief of operations in the city manager's office. "In the first reading there was a 60-day period allowed to get your building permit. This requirement was vague, and after working with the building officials, building director and industry we defined what constituted a complete set of building plans rather than set a time limit."
Last year, the city hired TischlerBise & Associates to study the impact fees, which had not been changed since 1987.
According to the research company, the new impact fees will generate $7.3 million a year for the city, up from the previous $2.4 million.
Most of the money is to be used to add 11.2 acres of city parks within five years, according to the city manager's office.
In November, commissioners approved the hiring of Goody Clancy & Associates for $700,000 to construct a parks and open spaces master plan to harmonize with Miami 21, the city's overall long-term master plan and development blueprint on transportation, economic development and rezoning.
The firm is making recommendations for improving, acquiring and maintaining parks and greenspace throughout Miami.
The impact fees will also finance city services such a police and fire rescue, along with general services.
Under the new ordinance, impact fees for single-family homes are set at $8,099. Of that, $6,818 is to go for parks and greenspace. There was no fee before for single-family homes.
The fee for low-rises - including townhouses, duplexes and residential buildings with three to nine units - is now $7,124 per unit, with $5,998 going to parks. Prior legislation had low-rise fees at $1,082 per unit.
Developers of buildings of 10 or more units now will pay $4,702 per unit, with $3,959 of that for parks. The prior fees were $915 per 1,300 square feet.
"It's great to see the city add this issue of parks and greenery when we are at the bottom of the list for urban parks and greenspace," said Michael Cannon, managing director of Integra Realty Resources. "Public space is a major benefit now that we are living in a new urban area."