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VANCOUVER, WA-Clark County commissioners have postponed until February additional hearings on a proposed increase in the fees developers must pay to mitigate the traffic their new projects will generate over a 20-year period. The Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce and the attorney for several developers successfully argued that more time was needed to review the proposal released by county staff in the middle of November.

Commercial and retail developments would see the highest increase under the proposal. As an example, the agencies are saying that the developer of a 3,000-sf fast-food restaurant in South County that currently pays $11,327 would pay $117,655 under the new proposal, and the developer of a 50,000-sf office building in Downtown Vancouver that currently pays $8,808 would pay $119,237 under the new proposal. Costs in other areas would go down, but only slightly.

Evan Dust, Clark County’s senior transportation planner in charge of the traffic impact fee update, says the county isn’t planning to increase fees, but rather take away “artificial” fee reductions that previously were given to retail developers and others. “My sense was those reductions were wrong,” Dust tells GlobeSt.com. “The proposed changes represent a more realistic picture of the costs.”

Clark County and the city of Vancouver jointly administer the traffic impact fee program. The two use different formulas to calculate the amount developers are charged, but in addition to the fee increase they are proposing to make their formulas identical. Clark County commissioners delayed further action at a hearing Tuesday night. One of the arguments was that, despite releasing the proposal in November, the county didn’t hold a workshop for potentially affected parties until last week. The next meeting on the subject will be held Feb. 6. If the county eventually approves the increase, the Vancouver City Council will hold its own public hearing before approving similar changes.

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