The Pasco County Planning Commission is recommending approval of an ordinance that would raise mobility fees charged for market-rate apartments.
The proposed ordinance also would eliminate mobility fees for single-family and multi-family projects that qualify under the county’s definition of affordable housing.
In recommending approval, the planning commission suggested that the higher rates take effect on Jan. 1, 2021. The changes had been proposed to take effect on Aug. 10.
The Pasco County Commission will have the final word on the issue.
Planning commissioners decided to recommend a delay in implementation based on their concerns about the current economy, and after hearing those same worries expressed by the public.
Ed Rogers with Florida Design Consultants, who spoke on behalf of Crown Community Development, urged commissioners to delay implementing higher fees.
“Crown Community Development currently has two projects under active development that are fully entitled and have multi-family components. Chapel Crossings is in the urban service area and Watergrass is in the suburban area.
“In both projects, Crown has contracts pending with market-rate apartment developers who are on the cusp of moving forward,” Rogers said.
He referred to a County Commission workshop, when that board decided to seek higher mobility fees for market-rate apartments and to drop the fees for affordable housing.
“We were living in a different economy back in February,” Rogers said. “In fact, the first item on the workshop agenda that day was the county budget for the next fiscal year, and the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) presented to the board a glowing picture of the economy, which was vibrant at the time.
“The COVID-19 crisis and its significant economic impacts hadn’t yet made its imprint on anybody’s consciousness at that point.
“But, we now live in a different world where more than 30 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits because of the effects of the coronavirus on the economy,” Rogers said.
Raising the fees now could jeopardize Crown’s pending multi-family sales, he said.
He asked that consideration of the proposed fee increases be tabled until the economy is “on a more certain and positive track.”
Attorney Barbara Wilhite, who also spoke on behalf of Crown Community Development, cited similar concerns.
Planning Commission Chairman Charles Grey also questioned the timing of the proposal.
“I think this is probably not a good time to increase fees to anybody that wants to bring a benefit to our county. It’s a fact that would discourage them. We need growth.”
“To me, this is a bad time to do it,” Grey said.
Planning Commissioner Chris Poole agreed, noting that he’s read about the state’s sales tax being decimated in March and that the numbers are expected to be even worse for April.
“Given the uncertainty that we’re facing, I really think that this is an issue that should be tabled and picked back up at a later date,” Poole said.
One representative for the Bay Area Apartments Association spoke in opposition of the higher fees for market-rate apartments, while another representative of that association spoke in favor of eliminating the mobility fees for affordable housing.
Ultimately, planning commissioners voted to recommend that the proposal be found consistent with the county’s comprehensive plan.
The proposed rate changes now go to the Pasco County Commission for consideration.
Published May 27, 2020