Town reconsiders land use fees

Council has tabled a motion to increase land use bylaw application fees after concerns the figures were too high.

Council has tabled a motion to increase land use bylaw application fees after concerns the figures were too high.

A request for third reading was presented to council July 9 but Coun. Rick Bonnett wanted to address a letter opposed to the application for land use bylaw amendment that raises the fee to $100 per unit from $25. “If there are 100 lots or 125 lots or whatever, it escalates costs.”

Steve Bontje, managing partner with Laebon Homes, stated in a letter if a company put an application in to adopt or amend an area structure plan, the costs would be unreasonable. “For reference, the $500 plus $100 per lot fee, applied to a relatively common area structure plan containing 500 lots, would be ($100 x $500) + $500 = $50,500. That is over 20x higher than the $2,500 application fee required in the City of Red Deer.”

Bonnett asked if town administration would be better off to have a one-time fee for applications such as this. The purpose of the increase is to pay for statutory advertising costs. CAO Brad Watson says the town uses an equivalency formula to ensure rates are similar and with the proposed increase there is little surplus. “It breaks out almost even….On a formula basis it’s relatively the same.”

Coun. John Jacobs would have preferred to make the decision with Betty Jurykoski, officer of the planning and development, at the meeting to give others some clarification but she was away. He wanted to know how Ponoka compares to other municipalities.

“Are we charging more or less than West Central Planning?” Jacobs asked. “If we are competitive then why is Laebon sending us a letter?”

Mayor Larry Henkelman pointed out Laebon was not using other municipalities such as the towns of Innisfail and Blackfalds who are also charging money per lot for recreation. Innisfail charges $1,000 per lot and Blackfalds $500 per lot for recreation, said Henkelman. “They’re addressing the dollars for recreation.”

Coun. Loanna Gulka agrees the town should be covering its administration costs but she feels the proposed price is too high.

Watson suggested council table the motion until Jurykoski returns to help clarify their questions. Betty Quinlan, director of corporate services, also could not recall a time when there were 500 homes being built at once in Ponoka.

Two other fee schedules were increased: subdivision application and approval fees, and permit fees. The latter is a shared contract with Superior Safety Codes at 50/50 cost-sharing and is also staying in line with rising costs.