This week the Newberry City Commission unanimously approved impact fees for new residents amid a spate of growth and development around Newberry.
“This will allow us to provide the infrastructure improvements that the burgeoning population expects,” Marlowe said in an interview. “Everybody likes nice roads.”
The commission passed the measure on first reading Monday night, 3-0, with two commissioners absent. The fees will take effect 90 days after the second reading, which is scheduled for March 28.
The fees only apply to new residents within Newberry city limits. Marlowe said existing residents will not have to pay the fees, nor will developers who already have approved construction plans.
“Construction site approval means they’ve started selling lots at a price that didn’t include these fees,” Marlowe said. “We want to protect residents, and we want to protect developers. We want to be fair to everybody.”
Bryan Thomas, Newberry’s director of planning and economic development, said city staff is in the process of compiling a list of existing, approved developments that will be exempt from the fees.
Governing boards are allowed to impose impact fees in four categories: public safety, parks and recreation, public buildings and infrastructure. Newberry is only acting on the latter two.
According to the city, Newberry currently has 25 commercial and residential projects in some stage of development in and around the city’s urban service area.
Marlowe said public building fees will range from $1,100 to $1,900, while infrastructure fees will range from $4,900 to $5,700, depending on the building or house size. The commission voted to start fees at 80% and graduate them to 100% over the next two years.
“It’s unfair to say [impact fees are] designed to curb growth, but it’s designed to ensure that the population growth pays for itself,” Marlowe said.
Marlowe said the fees are a positive step for the city’s future.
“I think this is a seminal moment for the city of Newberry,” he said. “For a city our size and at our moment in history, to be taking this step to make sure 20, 30, 40 years down the road we have the funds to expand roads, add additional stop lights, or turn lanes, we’ll be able to stay ahead of the challenges that we face, rather than reacting to the challenges.”