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One-time fee on developers upped to include pedestrian, bike projects

The city of Newberg has revamped the one-time transportation fee it charges to developers in a way that will raise costs more than $2,000 per proposed single-family residence.

Under the new methodology, the transportation system development charge (SDC) would factor peak-daily uses of roads by cars, bikes and pedestrians in the fee — and projects funded by the fee — rather than the old system that just accounts for vehicular traffic.

"This is the methodology that staff looked at and believe was the right way to move forward," said City Engineer Kaaren Hoffman, noting that other city departments weighed in and interested parties did not object.

"It's a more holistic look at the system," she said, adding that the fee can now fund sidewalks and bike lanes as opposed to just from curb to curb in the old system.

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution adopting the new methodology and fee at its May 2 meeting after about an hour of discussion.

The new fee is assessed by how much a particular building is estimated to use the transportation system during peak-time evening hours, including cars, pedestrians and bikes.

Hoffman said the city alerted numerous interested parties of the plan and received no response.

In a presentation to the council, John Ghilarducci of utility management consulting group FCS Group explained that the fee charges what is estimated to be a new development's share to maintain the existing infrastructure and expand that infrastructure.

"These are the mechanisms that we have to charge growth for its impacts on the transportation system as opposed to existing users through a utility fee, like you just discussed," he said alluding the transportation utility fee the council had approved minutes earlier.

This would amount to about $5,764 for a single-family house with larger fees for other building uses, such as about $6,101 per 1,000 square feet of general light industrial development.

The funds collected from the fee are then used on a specific list of construction projects detailed in the city's infrastructure expansion plan.

During a public hearing on the proposal, one resident worried that the city is over-charging developers for construction projects on the city's list that the developers take upon themselves, using the Crestview Crossing project as an example where Gramor Development plans to connect the existing road to Highway 99W.

However, Ghilarducci explained the list legally binds the city to the projects it can work on, meaning that it can still build a proposed project even if a development falls through. He also noted that a developer can get a credit for work that goes beyond what was required.

Hoffman noted that amending the list based on a developer's uncommitted plans is "speculative."

"We don't know who's going to pay or build what five years from now, so what we did was we assumed the entire project cost in that SDC calculation so that we could, again, build that entire project if we so choose," she said.

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