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Two Harbors proposes parkland dedication fees

The Two Harbors City Council heard the first reading June 11 and the second reading June 25 of an ordinance to establish parkland dedication fees to the city code.

City Planner Justin Otsea addressed the council during the agenda meeting prior to the first reading to explain the proposed ordinance.

"Parkland dedication fees are an item that the planning commission has been researching over the last six months or so at the request of the administration," Otsea said. "Basically, they can be a tool for cities to generate some revenue for something that doesn’t generate too much direct revenue to be able to offset some costs from the general fund."

Otsea explained that no existing revenue currently supports parks and trail developments, so whenever parks need improvements or whenever new parks are built, the funds must be found in the general fund. Rather than continue this system, the planning commission began exploring other options and found many cities have adopted parkland dedication fee structures.

"So with increases to the population through housing or an increase in density, with regards to industrial or commercial activity, can put extra stress or demand on the park or trail system within the community. So that’s the rationale behind this fee system, where the city is able to charge a fee for the extra stress placed on the system," Otsea said. "These funds than can only be used to update existing or build new park and recreation facilities."

These fees only apply to new constructions and can’t be applied to existing structures retroactively. Any house or business already built will not have to pay this fee. The city also has the ability to waive these fees through a developer's agreement or at the city's discretion.

Otsea said the commission examined several options for the fee system before determining the following fee schedule:

-Properties developed on residential single dwellings and/or residential duplexes pay $100.

-Properties with three or more residential dwellings pay $75 per dwelling.

For properties developed as industrial/commercial purposes, it is dependent on the building's footprint, which is due at the time of the building permit:

-$300 for 0-5,000 square feet.

-$600 for 5,001-10,000 square feet.

-$1,200 for 10,001-20,000 square feet.

-$1,500 for 20,000-plus square feet.

The motion for the first reading of the ordinance passed unanimously with no discussion; councilman Frank McQuade was absent. The motion for the second reading passed unanimously with Mayor Chris Swanson absent.

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

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