Sat, Dec. 07

Fee ordinance on Jerome council agenda
Public hearing could be final step for new P&Z fees

After much public comment and several revisions, the Jerome Town Council likely will adopt a new fee schedule for the town during Tuesday night's scheduled meeting.

Ordinance 331 adjusts and creates fees for town business through administration, planning and zoning, design review board and board of adjustment. The ordinance will be considered during a public hearing and second reading.

When the process of adopting new fees began months ago, the council was considering two ordinances with different fee schedules. The first was for standard fees, such as the cost of a business license and charges for faxes and photocopies. The second was for fees through planning and zoning, design review and the board of adjustment.

During its March 28 meeting, the council voted to include the standard fee schedule with the P&Z schedule to save costs on publishing notices for two proposed ordinances.

Before any ordinance is passed into law the council is required to hold two public hearings. If major revisions are recommended, the process usually starts over. Ordinance 331 has gone through public hearings with both the council and the planning and zoning commission. During those hearings, open discussion convinced the council to make several revisions to the proposed ordinance.

During its scheduled meeting on June 27, the council held a first reading and public hearing. A few more changes in fees were suggested at that time. The proposed ordinance is back on the agenda Tuesday night for what could be the final public hearing, followed by a vote of the council.

In the version considered in June, construction or demolition of residential and commercial buildings were to be charged at different rates by the design review board. Now those fees are standardized at $200 each. Another change for design review is that property owners who want to change the color of paint or roofing composition will not be charged any fee, although they still must go before that board.

Perhaps the proposed fee undergoing the most changes -- and drawing the most comment -- is the cost of making an appeal to the Board of Adjustment. That fee appeared on the first version of the proposed ordinance as a change from the current fee of $100 to $600. Some residents voiced the opinion that such a large fee would keep people from making appeals. In the end, the council agreed.

The version put forth at the June 27 meeting was a compromise on the appeal fee. The cost of the actual appeal was dropped to $100, but the cost of advertising the hearing was to be charged, up to a maximum of $350.

Still, some people thought that was too high.

The version going before the council Tuesday night will have a proposed fee of $200 for appealing a P&Z decision to the board of adjustment, with no advertising costs added. A major change to that proposed fee is that the $200 will be refunded to people who are successful with their appeals.

The July 11 meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in council chambers at 600 Clark Street.

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