Jaffrey suspends impact fees for four years

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, April 12, 2018 7:55AM

Jaffrey town officials are hoping to encourage development and growth in town by reducing and suspending certain fees associated with construction.

On Tuesday, the town’s planning board voted to suspend all impact fees – a fee imposed on a developer based on the building’s impact on the school district, municipal facilities, and roads – in town until 2022.

“We live in a great community with great community spirit, but the reality of it is Jaffrey is stagnant, there’s stagnant growth in Jaffrey,” said Jaffrey resident Mike Shea, during the public hearing preceding the board’s decision. “These fees and ordinance, I feel… were created by people who wanted to stop growth. There was a fear for a while that Jaffrey was growing too quickly.”

The collection of impact fees in Jaffrey began in 1992 and have been apportioned based on the square footage of residential and nonresidential construction. 

Planning and Economic Development Director Jo Anne Carr said Wednesday that the town has collected about $550,000 in fees to date, which were placed in special accounts so the money accumulated can be spent on new construction for the school district and municipal facilities, as well as road paving. 

“If the board has the perception that it’s a financial hit then I support the idea [to suspend impact fees],” said Carr, who said an average impact fee for a single family home was around $2,000. 

Shea, the only member of the public to speak at the hearing, said there were no “hugely desirable” tracts of land for industry or housing development in town in his opinion. Shea said he saw the fees as more of a deterrent for potential builders, not worth the money they generate. 

“Whatever we have [for land], it needs to be easier for people to cultivate,” said Shea. “Without growth, if we continue at this rate, I’m really convinced Jaffrey will begin to dive into a slow decent on growth.”

Tim Gordon, chair of the planning board, voted against the suspension of impact fees, saying that he doesn’t agree with the notion that impact fees are holding the town back. 

“Somehow we have to calculate the cost of infrastructure for people attaching to it,” said Gordon. “… I think that if a person wants to move to Jaffrey, they want to move to Jaffrey because they think its a great town and has great services… I think we need to focus more on that piece than on the fee reduction side.”

Jaffrey’s select board made a similar move in October last year, by reducing the water and sewer hook up fees.

The new rate is $500 per connection, down from the previous $2,264. The new rates went into effect on Nov. 1.