Builders Question Fees

BLYTHEWOOD – After months of discussing updating the Town’s fees schedule, Town Administrator Gary Parker recommended adding fees for a landscape/tree removal plan, a tree fund and for a design review or architect’s fee to cover the cost of design reviews by the Town’s consulting architect who advises the Board of Architectural Review on matters that come before it. Parker proposed a review fee for landscape/tree removal plans – $500 for a commercial plan review, $1,000 for a subdivision plan review and an optional $550 fee for a tree fund.

Those fees did not set well with several home builders, two of whom appeared before Council to ask members to delay making a final decision on the fees. Jon Covert, representing the Building Industry Association of Central South Carolina and a local custom home builder, said he and the Association’s staff had reviewed the proposed fees.

“We are asking you to delay the second reading on this for 30 days so we can come meet with staff and talk about how this all works and how it relates to the previous landscape ordinance,” Covert said.

Home builder Earl McLeod also addressed Council, asking for a delay, “so we can talk with the Town about the fees with respect to the $550/tree fund fee and what that really means in terms of people trying to buy homes in this area.

While Council voted to defer the final vote for 30 days and meet with representatives of the Building Industry Association, Mayor J. Michael Ross reminded the speakers that the issue had been on the table for almost a year and that no one had come forward until now, just before the final vote.

“I would encourage people to not wait to start worrying about something until it comes up for last reading,” Ross said.
Council also deferred vote on an application fee for review of a zoning map amendment. Parker proposed reducing that fee from the current $5,000 to $250, closer to the Town’s actual costs.

In a related matter, Council voted to provide for fees and charges for the use of park facilities as follows: soccer field and amphitheater, $30 for residents and $35 for non-residents; multi-purpose field, $25 for residents and $29 for non-residents.