By Sandy Barnes
To encourage development in an ailing economy, the Town Board has agreed to offer substantial incentives to developers.
After debating details of the incentives package presented by Town Planner Tim Katers, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved an ordinance with 55 percent reductions in building and electric permits and plan review fees. Other major revisions include waiver of the density transfer fee, a 30 percent waiver of the parkland development and public facilities fees along with a 50 percent reduction in the parkland dedication fee and two percent general fund tax. The reductions total an average of $6,790 per project and are applicable to both residential and non-residential development.
Developer fees would be payable at the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy, except for the building and electric permits and plan review fees. An example Katers gave using the fee revisions at Mary’s Farm would be an initial payment of $1,044, with the remaining $29,114 coming due at C.O.
Developers who spoke at the public hearing on the incentives suggested that the Town leave the time frame they are offered open-ended. Larry Bebo and Scott Sarbaugh also asked that the letter of credit, which had been reduced to 25 percent in the incentives proposal, be eliminated for on-site development. “I would encourage you to go bigger and deeper,” Sarbaugh remarked concerning amount of incentives offered.
During the board discussion before the vote, Trustee Jeff Hindman expressed initial concern about not setting a limit on the incentives package. “I think it’s important that it’s capped,” he said. Otherwise, when the Town reverts to its standard fees, developers will see the measure as a raise.
Trustee Glen Buckingham thought that limiting the quantity of development at reduced rates would be better than setting a specific time to be offered. “As a community, we’re experimenting with the market place,” he said. “We’ve got to become a community that is aggressive, and make it easy to do business with us.”
“Let’s leave this open-ended,” said Trustee Dick Shepard. “As the economy improves, we can change what we’ve done.”
Trustee Michael Patrick suggested adding a preamble to the incentives ordinance stating that is a temporary measure in response to difficult economic times. Patrick also said the Town Board and staff would need to revisit the Town budget in the coming months if no building permits are issued. The Town budget contains a projection of 15 permits in its expected revenues. None have been issued so far this year.
Patrick and Hindman also responded to the remarks of former Mayor Milan Karspeck who voiced concerns about waiving park development fees. “We’re deciding which arm to cut off,” said Patrick about the decision, which he stressed was a temporary one. The board agreed to work out final details of the development incentives at a future time, and also to widely publicize the ordinance throughout the Front Range.
In other matters, trustees approved additional streetscape elements for the Main Street project, which include benches, planters, bike racks and waste receptacles, after hearing a presentation by Main Street Program Director Eric Boyd.
During his report, Town Administrator Jim White announced that the Town had received a $109,000 grant from the Colorado Historical Society to renovate the structure of the historic building where the police department is located.
The Town Board also heard an update on the Safeway store project from Town Administrator Jim White and Dan Clayton, real estate manager for Safeway. Clayton said the project had been delayed and estimated that the store would be built by 2011. He also asked the Town to consider extending incentives originally offered to Safeway.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Becky Hemmon, Chairman of the Berthoud Economic Resource Team, asked that the group’s meetings be moved to Guaranty Bank in order to have more space. Town Clerk Mary Cowdin said there has been an ongoing effort to have all advisory board meetings at Town Hall. She also stated the board meeting room could be rearranged to accommodate the group. Trustee Hindman suggested that BERT consider meeting at the community center or library.
<p><strong>Sign of Things to Come</strong></p>
<p>High Impact Sign and Graphics in Loveland, which was recently awarded the contract to design new signage for Berthoud, created these new signs installed on U.S. Hwy. 287 earlier this week. The signs are part of Berthoud’s continuing commitment to encourage growth and development during trying economic times.</p>
<p>Berthoud Parks and Recreation Director Jeremy Olinger assists a street deparment crew as the prepare to install the Town’s logo.</p>