City considers development funding changesJamestown’s Building, Planning & Zoning Committee is considering changes to the city’s code regarding subdivision developments, in order to ease the development process.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown’s Building, Planning & Zoning Committee is considering changes to the city’s code regarding subdivision developments, in order to ease the development process.
“I can’t tell you how many young people come to town and … want something decent to live in, they want something new,” said Candice Dempsey, of Reuben Liechty Realtors. “And we have to be slow to build, and I understand that, I do — but we’re just going to lose people, people that don’t find housing.”
Dempsey was one of several people who spoke at Tuesday’s committee meeting on the subject.
Jamestown’s city code requires developers to pay for some infrastructure up front. Some cities charge part of those costs back to the landowners as special assessments, which are then passed on to people who purchase the properties. That reduces the upfront costs for developers.
Currently, Section 8 in Appendix B of the City Code lists requirements for approval of any subdivisions inside the city limits.
According to Section 8, for a subdivision development to be approved, the following improvements already must be in place or be assured of completion — water and sewer mains must be constructed, streets and alleys must be brought to grade and graveled, and slope protection must be made when necessary.
All that must be done at the upfront cost of the developer. Then the city will pave the road and put in curbs and gutters and storm sewers, charging that cost back to the landowner as special assessments.
Property owner Mark Goehner said he’d heard from a developer that it simply wasn’t feasible to put down that much money upfront, even though a previous project had been successful.
“I thought he would come back, but he declined to do so until something changed in the city ordinance,” Goehner said.
Clarice Leichty, another property owner, said it was typical that property owners pay for the improvements a little at a time rather than doing them for the entire subdivision, to keep pace with the city’s growth.
Property owner Corey Bayer said although there are buildable lots in Jamestown, there are not many and some may not be desirable.
Bayer referred to the 1970s and 1980s, in which the city’s code had allowed for all the improvements to be charged as special assessments, but a development had gone bad and the city had been left with the bills unpaid.
Possible options for changing the code include having the developer pay for 25 or 33 percent of the cost of the improvements up front and having the city pick up the rest to be charged back as special assessments.
The committee made no decision and will likely discuss the matter again at its next regular meeting in September.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin
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