NORTH PORT — The North Port City Commission wants more clarifications before it approves a new impact fee ordinance.

Commissioners on Thursday had a second and what should have been their final hearing on an ordinance regarding the calculation of impact fees. The commissioners, however, voted 4-0 to postpone any decision until a third hearing can be scheduled. Commissioner Vanessa Carusone did not attend Thursday’s meeting.

Both Mayor Debbie McDowell and Vice Mayor Jill Luke questioned language in the ordinance determining when new development pays the higher impact fees. They wanted clarifications.

Impact fees are fees charged to new development to help offset the expenses for expanded and new infrastructure to meet the needs of new growth.

On June 11, the commission adopted a new impact fee schedule that meant an estimated $2,500 increase to new home construction, bringing the total up $8,185 in city impact fees for a single-family residence. Impact fees for commercial, nonresidential construction can vary depending upon the specific uses.

The question arose over what impact fees developers are charged when they complete a project

Traditionally in the city, when builders pull their permits, they would be expected to pay whatever the impact fee schedule is on that day. Builders could wait and pay impact fees when the project is completed and a certificate of occupancy (CO) is issued.

The new rates are already in place and were first implemented on June 12. The conundrum arose over those builders and developers who submitted for city building permits prior to June 12, but have not received a CO for their project. Do they will have to pay the new fees or the old ones when they pulled their permits?

And should builders and developers be told one price when they pull their permits and another price for impact fees at the time of their COs?

“I see it’s more of a consistency issue,” Rich Suggs told commissioners. He is running for the District 1 seat now held by Carusone. He suggested business owners look to the city for consistency in its policies.

Lou Sperduto, a retired city building inspector, also recommended the city be consistent with its implementation of impact fees.

“All municipalities in the area collect impact fees at the time of application and do not reassess them at CO,” Sperdutio said. “Sarasota County, for example, gives developers 60 months to finish an active permit before imposing any new rates.”

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