Charlotte official’s push for impact fees will likely experience resistence

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Taiwo Jaiyeoba, Charlotte’s assistant city manager and planning director, has launched  an initiative to introduce impact fees for new developments in the city — but he has an uphill battle, both from the development industry and because of North Carolina’s legislative structure.

The Charlotte Observer recently published a generally enthusiastic article about his impact fee initiative — reporting his perspective that the fees would help overcome the challenges of new developments: “More traffic, overcrowded schools, lack of open space.”

And nearly every time, the projects are still approved, the newspaper reported.

“At the end of the day, we all walk away from it,” Jaiyeoba said. “Nobody offers a solution.”

Jaiyeoba is considering a controversial plan to help alleviate concerns that come with growth — a proposal around what he calls “community benefit fees” he would like to present to the city manager in the next few months. “The idea, referred to in other cities as impact fees, is for builders and developers to pay a tax for new construction that would fund parks, schools and transportation infrastructure in the surrounding area,” the Observer reported.

However, these fees must be approved by the state legislature, and none have passed in decades.

And any local politician hoping to push for the required legislative change will need to deal with the builders’ lobbyists, such as The Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition, who argue that these fees are regressive and price homeowners out of the market.

“That is going to keep a number of buyers who are right on the cusp of qualifying from qualifying (for a mortgage),” said Joe Padilla, vice-president of governmental affairs for Georgia-based Smith Douglas Homes.

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