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ALPINE HOPES IMPACT FEES WILL EASE GROWING PAINS

SHARE ALPINE HOPES IMPACT FEES WILL EASE GROWING PAINS

Alpine City is expected to almost double in size by the year 2020, and local residents are sending out a rallying cry to city officials in hopes the growth won't destroy their back-to-nature, bedroom community.

But because of Alpine's rural atmosphere - where commercial entities are next to none and sales tax revenue is sparse - city officials have to come up with other revenue to maintain the city. That may be in the form of large impact fees.City officials hired Horrocks Engineering to figure out if raising building impact fees would help with growth problems - and even help in maintaining Alpine's rural atmosphere by adding trails and parks throughout the city.

The engineering firm came up with a plan that, if adopted, would add over $2,500 in impact and water connection fees to build on a half-acre lot. That includes a $1,000 storm-water impact fee, a $300 impact fee for street systems and a $1,000 impact fee for recreation systems - bringing the total of impact fees, connection fees and building permit fees to almost $8,000.

Some local residents who are upset about the growth are happy about the proposal.

"The destruction of all the intimate reminders of what living close to nature once entailed certainly does not have to be inevitable. The trails, parks and open spaces that would do so much to compensate for the various social penalties of urbanization are essential aspects of good city planning and should not be com-pro-mised," said the group, Alpine Citizens for Responsible Growth, in a letter to the municipal leaders of Alpine.

"The old-timers should not have to pay for what the new-timers are going to bring," said Alpine resident Lorraine Watkins.

Some see it as an attempt to slow growth in the city, but Alpine Mayor Don Christiansen said increased fees will not decrease growth.

"I've seen land prices skyrocket and that hasn't held back growth here," Christiansen said.

But Kirk Conder, who just purchased property in Alpine, said he is concerned about the high fees.

"I will not be able to move in for a while because of the impact fees," Conder said.

With the proposal, Alpine's impact fees would be nearly the highest in Utah County. Other large impact fees are charged by other small cities like Mapleton - where improvement fees cost a home builder around $2,400.

City officials are concerned about the legalities involving the high fees. By law, impact fees cannot be used to address existing deficiencies in a city, said Jody Burnett, the lawyer hired to look over the issue with Alpine.

"The fees are intended to address needs created by new developments. But it is not easy to calculate impact with mathematical precision," Burnett said.

If everything goes as planned, the new impact fees could be in place as soon as September.