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‘Infill assessment’ up for a vote

By Staff | Nov 12, 2011

Jack Brown is using the unimproved lot next to his southeast Cape home as an extended back yard, one on which he never intended to build.

Instead, he spent several thousand dollars landscaping and laying sod, making certain it’s as appealing to look at as it is to spend time in. There are no future plans to install a sink or toilet in the yard.

But Brown would have to pay an impact fee assessment if council decides to approve the so-called “infill” vote, which would assess unimproved properties where utilities are available but not hooked up.

Brown said the assessment would cost more than the value of the lot, though he has no plans to walk away.

Instead, faced with a fixed income, he would have to find a way to shoulder the burden.

“I understand they want to find ways to pay for the plant,” Brown said. “I don’t agree with them going after any one who’s paid their share and not the ones who haven’t.”

Whether city council, with three new faces and one returning incumbent, will have an appetite for what is essentially the proposal of the previous council, is unknown.

Councilman Kevin McGrail, part of that previous council, equates the infill proposal to the “Ghost of Christmas Past,” a new tax coming to haunt property owners who have already paid one assessment.

“You are going to have to go to people who have paid their assessments years ago and tell them we forgot to charge them an impact fee,” McGrail said. “I think it’s a bad idea.”

“The feedback from realty groups has been that this is this is a horrible idea. It’s going to cause even more stress on our ability to market our properties and our city, they told me,” McGrail added.

New District 2 Councilman John Carioscia reserved comment until the vote on Monday, while District 5 Council woman Rana Erbrick said the proposal isn’t a very exciting one.

“I’m not a big fan of the idea,” Erbrick said.

Councilman Marty McClain, who was elected two years ago, said it is important for the new council members to understand the true costs of the infill proposal and how those costs are imposed.

But, McClain added, he didn’t think the new council members were in favor of the idea.

“Based on how they have campaigned I don’t see how they will have the appetite for this,” McClain said.