The Home Builders Association of Utah has brought a lawsuit against the city, saying its impact fees on new home construction are illegal.
Sewer and water connection fees "cast an unequal burden upon new homebuilders and developers, forcing them to pay a disproportionate share of the cost of public facilities such as sewers, roads, schools and water treatment plants," according to suit filed Aug. 30 in 4th District Court.The suit says American Fork charges builders for infrastructure improvements that should be funded from general city revenues. Contractors pass the cost on to homeowners, driving up the cost of new houses.
"We want to send a message to other cities that we are very serious about being an advocate for affordable housing," said L. Tasman Biesinger, vice president of the association. "There are abuses widely spread throughout the state."
The complaint asks the court to invalidate the city's impact fee ordinances.
American Fork charges $1,800 for sewer hookups, $1,550 for water connections and $400 for city park improvements.
The homebuilders association also targeted south Ogden in a suit about impact fees and sued Riverton for requiring specific building materials for new homes. The trade organization is contemplating suits against other cities as well.
Biesinger said the association tried unsuccessfully through letters and discussions with American Fork officials to address the issue. "This is the only way we can get their attention," he said.
American Fork denied all of the complaint's allegations in a written response filed with the court Tuesday and seeks to have the case dismissed.
Enacted by the City Council over a period of 14 years, the city's ordinances are fair, reasonable, nondiscriminatory and in accordance with state and local laws, wrote Kevin Bennett, city attorney.
The homebuilder's suit claims American Fork ordinances "grossly ignore" the Utah Supreme Court's requirements for imposing impact fees.
Biesinger said the city failed to analyze the actual costs of connecting a home to sewer or water lines and set the rates arbitrarily.