City fills seats on roads, impact fees groups
Fourteen members of two citizen committees, heavily weighted with developers and people involved in the development community, were unanimously appointed without comment Wednesday by the Yuma City Council.
A seven-member Citizen Impact Fee Committee and a seven-member Major Roadways Plan Advisory Committee will help the city council make long-range decisions on two of the most controversial topics facing Yuma today - what to do with Yuma's roads and how best to assign the cost of growth among developers.
The city's first attempt to revamp its 1997 Major Roadways Plan failed when Mayor Larry Nelson dumped the proposed plan at the end of a lengthy public hearing process after the development community rose up against the plan.
Developers weren't the only ones upset with the revamped roadways plan. A local citizen's group also voiced opposition to the plan, saying it would disrupt Yuma's residential neighborhoods by forcing larger collector streets into residential areas.
The city also ran into trouble with developers when the city council decided to update Yuma's development fee system. The council had originally planned to hire a consultant to help revise the way the city assesses development, or impact, fees.
The city currently only assigns development fees in two areas of the city. It has been suggested that such fees should be spread throughout the city.
Real estate broke Ron Watson and Jeff Snow, a developer who works for Hall General Contractors, have briefed the council in the past on the kinds of contributions developers already make to the city's infrastructure when residential subdivisions are built.
The two men are now members of the committees.
Watson and Snow represent an informal group of about a dozen people from Yuma's development community who call themselves the Ad Hoc Committee in Opposition to the Road Plan.
On October, the group kicked off a public relations campaign designed to stamp out the idea that "greedy" developers weren't contributing their fair share for local infrastructure costs.
Watson has said the committee isn't just concerned about the city's road plan - which he says will cost developers thousands of dollars more than it already does - it's also concerned about any new impact fees the council might impose on developers.
The terms "impact fee" or "development fee" are often used interchangeably. They are fees that cities require developers to pay to offset the costs of providing public services to new developments.
Some people argue that developers should be forced to pay higher fees for the burden their developments place on such things as water and sewer systems and police and fire services.
Some states even require developers to pay for new schools, although Arizona does not.
Mayor Nelson had declined to release publicly the names being proposed for the two committees until shortly before this week's council meetings.
The impact fee committee was given until Dec. 31, 2005 to get its advisory work done. The road committee was given until Dec. 31 of this year.