Impact fees continue to be debate

By Michael Swiontek

Industrial and residential growth continues to evoke emotion in DeKalb.

At the DeKalb Plan Commission meeting Wednesday, DeKalbians debated whether impact fees for new developments are needed.

The debate centered around data projecting the number of students expected to enter School District 428 in the next few years.

School Board President Andy Small read a prepared statement praising city staff and supporting impact fees. He proceeded by distributing a graph that contained projections presented at the Oct. 4 school board meeting. The graph projected 2,980 new children will enter District 428 from 2006 to 2010.

Members of the DeKalb County Building Developers Association stated in a memo to the plan commission the school board’s projections were based on flawed methodology.

The DCBDA used projections from the 2004 DeKalb Special Census to determine the number of incoming students. It projected .434 students per household versus the school board’s “Naperville formula” which projected .695 students per household.

The commission approved residential design guidelines 3 to 1 with John Guio as the lone dissenter.

“Raising costs to developers raises the price of homes,” Guio said.

Those guidelines along with the passing of impact fees need to be approved before the residential development moratorium can be lifted.

“It’s fear-mongering when you apply high numbers,” said Mac McIntyre, executive board member for the DCBDA.

Vincent Frye motioned to table the proposal until the next meeting. His motion passed 3 to 1. Rich Fassig provided the only no vote.

“I thought we had enough information to make a decision tonight,” Fassig said.

City staff consulted with Roger Dahlstrom of the NIU Center for Governmental Studies in April to provide a Development Impact Fee Study. The study reinforced the city’s idea that impact fees can be an effective means for cost recovery.

“I’m disappointed with developers,” said Russ Farnum, community development director. “They had time for formal responses.”

Impact fees will be discussed at the Oct. 26 meeting.