Saturday, March 1, 2003

Rep. Raga won't support impact fees

He suggests an alternative for Warren

By Jon Gambrell and Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DEERFIELD TWP. - State Rep. Tom Raga told Deerfield Township Trustees on Friday he did not support plans for possible impact fees in Warren County.

Speaking at a township work session, Raga, R-Mason, said impact fees would have negative effects on the county, sticking to the stance he took during an interview with the Enquirer last month.

"I think (impact fees) will make the county less attractive to commercial and residential development," Raga told Deerfield leaders.

However, Raga did say that he would continue to work with the county and gather more information at the state level.

A possible alternative to impact fees, Raga suggested, would be to increase the costs of sewer and water tap-ins.

Trustee President Bill Morandsaid he, too, opposes impact fees, contending they would negatively impact the county.

"It is unfair," he said. "The growth that would happen in the county would just happen in the city."

But the Warren County Commission is pushing a $3,000 to $10,000 impact fee on new homes. The county is the second-fastest growing in the state and its 39 percent population jump between 1990 and 2000 meant school officials have frequently asked voters to approve school levies.

Last week, about 100 elected Warren officials turned out when commissioners held their first countywide summit on the issue. At that session, a lobbyist pledged to have legislation crafted within 60 days, but a state representative is needed to back it.

The Dayton suburb of Beavercreek provided precedent for cities to impose impact fees when officials there received a favorable ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court in 2000 after battling homebuilders in court for seven years.

If impact fees were imposed in Warren County, homebuilders would be almost guaranteed to fight it. In general, homebuilders loathe the fees, saying they reduce affordable housing.

But one of the biggest champions for impact fees in Warren County, Commissioner Mike Kilburn, said Friday that the quest for impact fees won't be curtailed by Raga's and Morand's stances.

"I am going to fight the good fight," Kilburn said. "I would think that three tenured, experienced county commissioners have a little more knowledge of what's good and what's not good for Warren County than Tom Raga ever had or ever will."

Kilburn said if a state legislator will not help them, then either he or Commissioner Larry Crisenbery or someone else may run for state legislator.

"Could be me or we could recruit someone else," he said.


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