Lake County to charge builder impact fees again



LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - Builders across parts of Lake County are soon going to have to pay up.

Impact fees will once again be charged on the construction of new homes and businesses.

Commissioners met Tuesday morning to vote on the fees that will only impact building in south Lake County.

Officials are eyeing a new turnpike interchange in Minneola and said they need the county roads to support it and said all the construction going on needs to pay its own way.

Across parts of south Lake County there is once again a good deal of commercial and home construction.

"And I don't think this has one darn thing to do with no impact fees," Ray Goodgame with the Clermont City Council said.

Transportation impact fees are charged to builders to pay for the roads necessary to support new development. At the meeting, the County Commission agreed to start collecting them again.

"The only thing we're doing right now by allowing reduced impact fees, or none at all, we're just making some contractor pockets bulge," Goodgame said.

The commission suspended the fees a few years ago when the bottom fell out of the economy and construction all but stopped. During that time, around $11 million in fees were not collected.

"Will impact fees slow housing growth? Perhaps. However, many of the home builders in south Lake County doing most of the construction are not locally owned and operated corporations," Kasey Kesselring, impact fee supporter said.

The new fees will be charged at a cut rate and only in the south sector of the county where officials say new roads need to be built. But they don't want the fees to be so expensive that commercial developers build in other counties where it's cheaper.

"We have to be so careful we're not scaring those uses away. And we'll be back to square one. Ten years from now, we'll have houses everywhere, and we're not going to have any jobs in Lake County," Leslie Campione on the Lake County Commission said.