Construction crews work as people get ready for a media tour of the one million square foot Amazon fulfillment center on Friday April 14, 2017 near Picadilly Road and Smith Road. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

AURORA | Commercial and industrial development may soon come with a higher price tag in Aurora as lawmakers consider charging so-called impact fees that would help pay for expanded roads across the city.

Right now, builders pay several thousands dollars in impact fees on every newly-built single-family home and unit of new multifamily housing, while non-residential properties are exempt.

Mayor Mike Coffman and city staffers on Saturday described impact fees as an approach to making development “pay its own way,” forcing builders to help with the up-front costs of new roads, parks, fire stations and other infrastructure and services needed as more people live and do business in Aurora.

According to Deputy City Manager Laura Perry, since the fees were introduced in 2008, the city has not charged impact fees on non-residential property.

But consultant Brian Duffany on Saturday told the City Council that the fees are commonly charged on commercial developments in other cities and said the impact on the pace of development would most likely be insignificant.

“I think the city is very well-poised to continue capturing a very large share of the non-residential market, especially in warehousing and distribution,” Duffany said at the Saturday workshop.

“Development impact fees are very common in a fast-growing environment like this, and so it’s not like when national developers come to build in Aurora, they’re going to say, ‘Oh my God, watch out for the impact fees.’”

Duffany and Perry shared the results of a study completed by Duffany’s firm, Economic & Planning Systems, which evaluated the impacts of different types of development and how much the city could reasonably assess in fees.

A proposal by Coffman would require developers of non-residential properties to pay transportation impact fees on new construction.

“We’ve always had the philosophy that growth ought to pay its own way,” the mayor said. “I think it’s something that we ought to take a look at.”

Based on the EPS study, the city could charge up to $12.70 per square foot for new retail development, $7.40 per square foot for offices, $3.80 for industrial space, $1.10 for warehouse space, $0.80 for mini-warehouse space and $4,400 per room for hotels.

Under Coffman’s plan, the city would phase in the transportation fees over three years starting Jan. 1, 2024. The proposal would also abolish the “zone” system that currently requires impact fee revenue to be spent in the same general area they were collected, which Perry said keeps the city from investing impact fees in larger projects. The dollar value of fees would also be pegged to inflation.

Council members didn’t oppose the change, agreeing that development creates a demand for city services that developers should help offset.

“I understand that implementing something like this will make development more expensive, but development also brings with it these costs,” Councilmember Curtis Gardner said. “We can live in this fairy world, where we say we’re not going to charge development fees because it keeps the cost of development lower, but we are still creating more needs for our city.”

While Coffman’s plan did not include an adjustment of transportation impact fees for residential development, the study proposed a maximum fee of $5,900 for single-family homes and $4,600 for multifamily housing units. Currently, developers pay $749 per home and $528 per multifamily unit.

Councilmembers Alison Coombs and Juan Marcano both said they would be interested in seeing the residential fees adjusted in a way that encouraged density.

“We don’t want to increase the cost of housing, but we also have to recognize that more costs can come with that,” Marcano said.

Perry said staffers may return later in the year with recommendations for implementation of the non-residential fee.

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  1. Marcano and Coombs will simply not be happy until stacked apartments are elbow-to-elbow everywhere in the city, including suburban neighborhoods that some specifically choose as a respite from density.

    Remember that when you cast your ballots in November.

    1. Hopefully, the Eagle Bend homeowner lawsuit against the planning dept is well thought out and proof of the cities ineptitude to handle and take the cities expansion seriously. Perhaps it will be a small win for the whole city to send the message to prevent other areas of this trend to bend and manipulate the rules for developers must follow. The city never mentioned this case, which was odd during the meeting. These limited politicians with no concept of having your own little piece of home ownership to come back to like Marcano, all that matters is more rentals with public transportation at the front door.

  2. Your selection of a picture taken of the new warehouses on East Colfax fits perfect, regrettably the city planning dept and their growth package to go with some kind of plan for traffic in that area is basically non-existent. The city has done absolutely nothing to think about this problem, much less in fact do something on how to handle the explosion in the level of traffic. Tower Roads is the exact same two-lane road from I-70 to Colfax as it was 40 years ago. Talk about traffic back up. What is Aurora going to do to solve this? I suspect more of not a thing! Smith road carries so much of a major load and it’s the same as Tower Road, another fiasco. The failure of this planning dept to continue to keep recommending more and more…. No- Council needs to get serious and take a drive out in these areas for themselves. Its time for council to start asking some questions that really focus on these so called traffic studies, these are worthless. None of the council live out north-east where the older original roads that have been built all around and witness the reality of what’s going on. But notice they think they know enough to debate it. Please!          

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