Following few public comments and a unanimous vote, Bellevue’s City Council passed the city’s development impact fee ordinance Monday night.
But in one last hiccup—the latest in a process filled with them—the councilmembers will have to do it again. Following the meeting, city staff realized the approval had lacked proper legal notice and would need to be redone next month. The vote is not anticipated to change and presumably the impact fee ordinance will become city law following the revote on March 22.
“This is an exciting, exciting day in Bellevue,” Mayor Ned Burns commented after the unanimous vote.
The city has never had a development impact fee ordinance, according to Community Development Director Diane Shay. Without one in place, the city’s capital improvement plan—which, at one point, ballooned to $30 million—was well outside revenue that could be generated by the city. Following a court ruling from an annexation dispute in Hailey, the city of Bellevue pulled its CIP—only required by state law if an impact fee ordinance is in place—in 2014. Then, in September of last year, a $3.44 million capital improvement plan was passed by the City Council.
Now, “Bellevue has a good opportunity for growth,” Councilman Chris Johnson said during Monday’s meeting.
The ordinance allows impact fees to be collected from developers based on the square footage of each residence in the development proposal. Those fees will then be used to help fund new infrastructure required by the development, such as roads, public facilities like libraries and schools and community spaces such as parks.
Accordingly, the City Council also voted unanimously to allow the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission to act as the city’s Development Impact Fee Advisory Committee, which is allowed by state law when at least two members of the commission are in the “business of development, building or real estate,” according to documents included in the meeting’s agenda packet. City staff noted P&Z Commissioners Paul Hopfenbeck, a construction manager for Sweetwater in Hailey, and Robert Wiesen, who oversees construction projects for All Seasons Landscaping, as the two members of the commission with experience in development, building or real estate.
Currently, the city’s nearest prospect for fee collection is the Strahorn subdivision being developed in Slaughterhouse Canyon. Concluding its first phase of development, the subdivision has 30 of its 47 lots “spoken for,” according to Bellevue Community Development Director Diane Shay.
Shay said she hopes to see development of phase two of the subdivision to begin this summer.
But city officials expect that Strahorn won’t be the only new development to contribute to the city’s coffers in the coming years.
“There’s a lot coming our way, very soon,” Shay told the council during Monday’s meeting.
In a follow-up interview with Shay on Tuesday, she told the Mountain Express that it’s not just Slaughterhouse Canyon that’s expanding the city’s revenue streams, but said she could not share details on upcoming annexations or development proposals.
“Stay tuned,” she said.
For now, the city has more than enough to celebrate.
After more than two decades since about 100 acres owned by developer Jeff Pfaeffle were annexed into the city, the Strahorn project has finally concluded its first of four phases of development.
On Monday, the City Council also unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the city treasurer to create a security bond that will hold funds for projects not yet completed in phase one—due to construction halts last spring when COVID-19 hit the community. The bond guarantees that funds for those projects will be available from the developer when construction commences again this spring.