Archive for Thursday, March 18, 2004

Leavenworth board studies possible effects of road fees

March 18, 2004

A public hearing Monday afternoon came and went without a decision on a controversial road improvement fee in Leavenworth County.

The road improvement fee is a proposal under consideration by the three-member Leavenworth County Commission, in which some developers would be charged $14,000 per lot to pay for hard surfacing of roads near their subdivisions. The current charge is $2,500 per lot.

The Monday afternoon hearing was the second public hearing concerning the proposal. The first came last month, but during that hearing enough people were turned away because of overcrowding that a second hearing was scheduled, county officials said.

Although no decision was made Monday, Leavenworth County Commissioner Joe Daniels, who represents the third district, which includes Basehor, Tonganoxie and southern Leavenworth County, said the proposal could be on the county's agenda in two to three weeks.

The road improvement fee, if approved, would be levied on developers for the construction of exterior roads in subdivisions. If approved, developments on state highways would not pay the fee and developments building along current blacktop roads would pay a reduced amount.

The nine-member Leavenworth County transportation committee, which was commissioned last year, recommended the measure as a way the county could fund road building in areas without a hardtop surface.

Developers pay the current $2,500 fee when they acquire building permits. A new, approved fee would be collected the same way, Daniels said.

Leavenworth County has seen an average of 153 new homes built in recent years. By contrast, the county builds about two miles of road per year, on average.

In 2003, the county, charging the $2,500 per lot, collected $382,900 when builders received their building permits. According to the county's transportation committee, it costs $490,000 to build one mile of road.

The higher fee could help the county keep pace with funding road building in areas without hard surface roads, Daniels said.

Opponents of the proposal have argued that an approved higher fee would increase the land value of property along state highways and blacktop roads while decreasing the land value in the unincorporated areas. Also, developers have said the higher fees would stymie residential building in Leavenworth County and make it difficult to recoup costs.

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