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TAVARES, FL-Lake County, generally known as a recreational and fishing paradise for about 140 years, may soon become known in the area’s commercial and residential development arena as home of the highest development impact fees in Florida, local developers and brokers tell GlobeSt.com.

Frustrated by overcrowded classrooms in every sector of the 1,200-square-mile county, Lake County School Board officials are urging cities throughout the county to block new subdivision construction if developers fail to pay a proposed school impact fee of $10,775 for each new residence. The proposed fee is 207% over the current $3,489 fee per home and would be one of the highest in the state, according to area builders.

“We understand the board’s position but we already are paying additional impact fees set by the county that right now are close to being the highest in the state,” a south Lake County builder who is negotiating fees with the county on one of his projects, tells GlobeSt.com.

The board wants the county to get a written contract from builders stating they will pay the proposed higher fee when the home’s construction is completed. The school board’s move comes after Leesburg officials in September raised minimum impact fees for a typical 3,000-sf industrial or commercial structure to $708 and $650 for single-family residences.

On top of local city or town fees, developers have been paying increased county impact fees since 2003. General commercial projects pay $2,177 per project, up 261% from $604 in 2002. Fast-food ventures pay $17,706 per unit, up 869% from $1,827 in 2002. Light industrial projects pay $2,157, up from $1,907. Single-family homes in the 1,500-sf to 2,500-sf range pay $2,189 per home, up 63% from $1,343 in 2002.

Even Howey-In-The-Hills, a northeast Lake County community of 998 permanent residents, has levied a development fee of $1.08 per sf on all non-residential structures. New residential projects pay 91 cents per sf.

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