“Anytime you raise project costs, it impacts pricing,” said Greg Blatt, sales manager with HER Realtors. “From the brokerage side of the business, any type of regulatory fee, tax … will always affect affordability … Taxation has had an impact on desirability, livability and affordability.”
Blatt, of Sugarcreek Twp., said a recent study shows the majority of the costs in a land development project are attributable to “zoning, permitting and entitlement through governmental entities.”
Greene’s planning commission significantly increased fees in 2015, said Executive Director Ken LeBlanc.
“The fee schedule … had not been updated for 20 years,” LeBlanc said. “We looked at other counties and their fee schedules … (Our) fees were increased two and a half, in some cases three times what they were before.”
LeBlanc said with the county’s surging growth, more plans were being submitted for review and the fees prior to 2015 were inadequate to cover the costs. After the increased fees were implemented, the planning commission was able to dedicate one staff member to subdivsion plan reviews, he said.
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The new additional fees include $250 if a developer wants to file for an extension of less than six months, and developers will be charged $250 for each month a plan review is delayed, according to county records.
“We did have a problem from a developer that had five different project managers over a three-year span,” LeBlanc said. “Then we were getting applications where the maps weren’t complete or not all the information was there and they wanted to table it.”
Greene officials looked to their counterparts in Warren County, where fee schedules are already adjusted annually based on the consumer price index.
Warren and Greene counties are two of the fastest growing of Ohio’s 88 counties, according to U.S. Census data.
From 2010 to 2017, Warren was the fourth fastest-growing county in the state, while Greene was 14th, based on the most recent Census data. From 2016 to 2017, Warren and Greene were the sixth and seventh fastest-growing counties in Ohio, the data show.
Warren County updated its fee schedule around 2009, and it has increased every year since, said Stan Williams, Warren County Regional Planning Commission executive director.
“Our fees have odd figures, like $53 or $57, because they increase incrementally,” Williams said.
Prior to Greene County’s bump in fees in 2015, Warren County increased its fees substantially across the board.
Fees increased from $50 for a base application and $5 per lot for final plan reviews to the current $545 application fee and $50 per lot, according to Bob Ware, Warren County’s subdivsion specialist.
“By and large the fees are meant to cover what it costs for us to take in and process an application,” Ware said. “We have seen a resurgence of growth. Some plats that were approved that bankrupted developers have been picked up by other developers.”