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Development fees divide House, Senate
By DAN DeWITT
Published May 4, 2005
TALLAHASSEE - A squabble between the House and Senate over where development can go and how much developers should be required to pay for new roads is adding to the disagreement over legislation to tighten growth management laws.
The issue, nicknamed "pay and go," is also dividing two other powerful interest groups - homebuilders and counties.
Under the House proposal, a developer who agrees to pay a share of road construction, typically through impact fees, could proceed with his project. Thus, pay and go.
A Senate proposal to give counties more power to raise gas and sales taxes without voter approval is still the main sticking point. But limiting the developer's transportation payments is a key concern, said Rep. Randy Johnson, R-Celebration.
"Basically, the developer is being held hostage," Johnson said of the Senate proposal.
The Senate contends the provision will promote sprawl by allowing development on roads that cannot handle it and weaken attempts to ensure that adequate roads are in place to serve new subdivisions and shopping centers.
Florida counties side with the Senate. "This totally undermines transportation concurrency," said Kriss Vallese, Florida Association of Counties spokeswoman.
The House, on the other hand, says the provision ensures that developers and builders don't pay more than their fair share for new roads.
The hombuilders side with the House. "We've got to make sure we're not paying for other people's impacts," said Keith Hetrick, general counsel for the Florida Home Builders Association.
The problem with the provision, Vallese said, is that it would apply to roads that cannot handle more traffic and to roads counties have no plans to improve. Also, she said, counties could not require developers to pay more than their impact fees to improve substandard roads that serve their projects, Vallese said.
The Senate bill would give counties more control to stop or alter development planned for inadequate roads, Vallese said.
Both houses were scheduled to hear growth management bills on Wednesday, and both postponed them while they worked on an agreement.