Westminster considers raising or adjusting fees Charges for renovation, building would be affected


Westminster government plans to raise the fees builders pay when they construct new houses and commercial buildings, but is expected to change its fee schedule so most renovators of commercial buildings would pay less.

The City Council is to hear public comment on the changes at its meeting at 7 p.m. tomorrow at City Hall. The fees are special benefit assessment charges, which are designated to cover capital improvements such as additional water or sewer capacity needed because of population growth.

The fees include water, sewer and special capital benefit charges and are used to pay for additional city office space, major equipment, parks and roads made necessary by growth.

The fee structure change was proposed after David Max, co-owner of two downtown office and retail buildings, complained to the council that the flat $2,600 fee made no distinction between small and large offices or stores.

Thomas B. Beyard, director of planning and public works, said new fees for renovations were worked out with a committee of the Greater Westminster Development Corp.

"It's been five or six years since we looked at the water and sewer fees," Mr. Beyard said. "And the special capital benefit assessment fees were adopted in 1988."

Councilman Stephen R. Chapin Sr., chairman of the public utilities committee, said he believes it is better for new house buyers or new commercial property owners to bear the increasing costs of providing water and sewer service.

"Going with higher fees will not stop but hopefully slow down increases in water and sewer rates," Mr. Chapin said.

The proposed changes would raise the residential water benefit fee from $2,100 to $3,000; sewer benefit fee, $1,800 to $2,500; and capital benefit fee, $750 to $1,000.

Builders of multifamily housing would see the water fees rise from $1,125 to $1,600 for a one-bedroom or efficiency, from $1,500 to $2,200 for a two-bedroom apartment, with similar increases for larger units.

Sewer benefit charges for apartments would go from $900 to $1,300 for a one-bedroom or efficiency, from $1,200 to $1,600 for a two-bedroom apartment. The capital benefit charge would go from $600 to $800 for a one-bedroom or efficiency, from $650 to $850 for a two-bedroom unit.

Fees for commercial or public buildings are based on a minimum charge with a sliding scale for additional square feet or additional building capacity. The minimum charges and the scales would rise, if the changes are approved. For example, the water benefit fee for an industrial manufacturing building would go from $2,100 for the first 5,000 square feet to a $3,000 minimum, with increases in the per-square-foot charges for more square footage.

Renovators who now pay the $2,600 special benefit assessment for each office or retail store they create out of a building would find the minimum charge reduced to $750, plus $1 a square foot.

Mr. Beyard said most downtown commercial units generally range from 1,000 to 2,000 square feet.

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