To the Editor:
Residential growth in McHenry County has been stagnant for over a decade.
Thankfully, in Crystal Lake, we are finally seeing proposals for new development. These developments represent millions of dollars of investment in our community and I believe that the city should do everything in its power to help them succeed.
It is nice to see that some municipalities and the county are finally acknowledging the value of new rooftops and have taken steps to reduce impact fees. However, a recent article on the topic only touched the surface regarding the issue of impact fees for new residential construction.
Impact fees were instituted to offset the costs of buying land and building schools in high growth areas. They were also enacted for parks. By law, they can only be used for for buying land and facilities needed due to that specific growth.
In Crystal Lake, we have seen declining enrollment for years and have excess capacity in both District 47 and 155. In fact, District 155 has the equivalent of an empty high school.
It is doubtful that we will ever need more land for schools or new buildings because of growth even if every available piece of land is developed. The park district already has facilities and land that far exceed what is considered normal for a city of our size. Therefore, the need and justification for impact fees does not exist.
Once again, by law these fees cannot be spent on anything but buildings and land. Even knowing that, there is a proposal is on the table for the city of Crystal Lake to actually raise total impact fees on nine categories of residential construction while slightly reducing fees on three.
The proposal reduces, but does not eliminate, school impact fees while dramatically raising park and facilities impact fees resulting in increases in the overall fees for most new construction.
Raising the cost of construction in a price sensitive market leads to fewer homes being built and slows the growth that is desperately needed. Impact fees for schools and parks can no longer be justified and should be eliminated.
CCC, Inc., CustomBuilding.com