Montgomery Twp. Studies Impact Fees

Posted: February 07, 1991

After Montgomery Township supervisors lambasted the state legislature for the recently enacted state law on impact fees, they moved to find out if it would be worth the township's while to enact an ordinance.

According to state Acts 209 and 203, passed last year, if a municipality wants to charge developers impact fees, it must first pass an ordinance. Even then, fees can only be levied to recoup the cost of road improvements proven to be directly related to the development, said Township Solicitor William R. Cooper.

"This is one of the worst pieces of legislation ever passed down from the state," Supervisors Vice Chairman Robert R. Kuhn said at Monday night's work session.

"It's a masterpiece of successful lobbying" by pro-development groups, Chairman Richard H. Gebelein said.

A local ordinance, board members believe, could cost the township more to enact than it would be able to recover through imposing impact fees.

Moreover, Cooper said, for municipalities to enact such legislation, they must create an advisory committee to complete a land-use study, an analysis of existing road conditions and a plan of which improvements are needed. The committee must have at least seven and at most 15 members, 40 percent of whom must represent the development industry, he said.

The studies could cost the township up to $100,000, Kuhn said.

To get a better idea of how cost-effective it would be for the township to enact impact-fee legislation, supervisors told Township Manager Daniel P. Olpere to get estimates from the county Planning Commission and Pennoni Associates Inc., the township's traffic consultant, on what the studies would cost.

"We're actually in a better position than most to capitalize on this," Olpere said, because a lot of development has been happening at once. "Places like Lansdale and Lower Gwynedd (both almost fully developed) aren't going to have that opportunity."

Gebelein was more skeptical that legislation would benefit the township, where development has slowed since the boom in the 1980s.

"Three years ago, this would've done some real good here," Gebelein said. ''But unless that kind of (development) boom hits again . . . it might not be worth it."

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