Extra Territorial Boundary Update

There has been some recent debate about Building Permit Fees in Culver.  Two things have prompted this:  The first being the new County Online Building Permit system and the second being the low reimbursement fee Culver pays the County Building Inspector.

Culver has a Building Commissioner to review zoning requirements and issue building permits.  Our Building Commissioner does not have the proper certifications to do building inspections so we have relied on the County Building Inspector to do building inspections.  Several years ago a fee to the County of $50 per permit was set for projects that required building inspections.  Building inspections are required on any construction involving new or changes to structural, mechanical or electrical systems.  Since that time, some of the larger home projects and commercial projects at Culver Academies have resulted in multiple trips (sometimes dozens) by the County Inspector.  Obviously the $50 fee did not cover the costs.  The County came to Culver asking for several revisions to the way Culver issues permits so as to bring the fees in line with the County fees and to make it more standardized so that the building permit process could be automated across the entire county.

For various reasons, Culver has chosen to not just raise the fees to cover the additional expenses, but to jump the fees well above those in the County and surrounding area.  Where the County has a flat fee for a commercial building, Culver has a fee based on square footage and value which could easily double or quadruple the fee the same building would cost in the county.  The same applies to residential projects.  This is hard to justify within the Town limits, but almost impossible to justify in the Extra Territorial Boundary where there are no municipal utilities, roads or other services.

As discussed here before, I thought it was in Culver’s best interest to expand their Extra Territorial Boundary to the maximum allowed by law.  I fought it when the Town gave up areas due to the new County Online Permitting.  I gave up the fight when Culver didn’t follow the County’s Wind Turbine Ordinance for the Extra Territorial Boundary. (Too Tired to Fight About it Further…)  Now this latest overreach could jeopardize the Extra Territorial Boundary we currently have.  If the County feels the Town is taking advantage of landowners in the Extra Territorial Boundary, they could rescind Culver’s control over this area.  Instead of providing a service this could be considered a case of taxation without representation.

This issue will be before the Town Council tomorrow night.  It has already been before the Plan Commission where it was passed.  I will probably not speak tomorrow night since I already did at the Plan Commission.  My points there were the following:

  1. The fees aren’t justified.  While Culver should be able to recoup costs involved with having a Building Commissioner and the costs to reimburse the County for the time spent by the Building Commissioner, Building Permit fees should not be a money making venture.  The arguments I’ve heard that the Contractors will just pass on these costs to the owners and in the case of large commercial customers and Lake homeowners that “They can afford it.” don’t justify it.  Building Permit fees are supposed to be a fee for services, not an admittance fee.
  2. It seems ironic that Culver has formed an Entry Level Housing Task Force charged with trying to bring some affordable housing to Culver while they contemplate raising fees on building construction.  Granted, the building permit fee is a small percentage of the cost of a new home, but so is the water tap fee and the sewer tap fee and the stormwater control requirements and the green space requirements, etc., etc., etc.  All of those small percentages that the Town increases are on top of all the new Building Code requirements and other impact fees that affect the cost of a home.  I’m not saying that any of these aren’t necessary or don’t make the home better, but they all contribute to pushing the cost of a home out of reach of the average young family in Culver.

It will be an interesting meeting tomorrow night.  I understand the troops have been rallied against this.  I think what started as a reasonable response to outside costs have taken an unfortunate turn.  We’ll see how it shakes out.

Picture Source:  colliergov.net

Comic Source:  studious-catz.com


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