Businesses concerned with development fees

Just as councillors here are concerned with Wellington County’s proposed development charges increase, local business people are concerned with having any development charges at all.
As councillors discussed the issue on Nov. 28, Clifford businessman Bill Smith spoke to council about what value he is getting for the money.
Smith has an 18,000 square foot shop and warehouse planned, and must pay what he believes are considerable development fees.
Meanwhile in Howick Township, across the road, no development fees are charged.
He then compared what services he gets in Clifford as compared to what he might have in Hanover – which he considered to be far less. While Smith said he understands the county might need funds to fix bridges, “I feel I do not get the same service for the money.”
Smith said he has been told “If I spend $1-million on a property in Clifford, it is worth $666,000. Why would I build in Clifford?”
For Smith, the answer lies in being a fifth generation resident of the area.
“I’d be building here re­gardless … but [the town] will have a hard time attracting new industry.”
Minto’s economic development manager Belinda Wick echoed Smith’s statements.
She said “it is difficult enough to get new businesses to the area without hindering them with the charges.”
Later, the issue came up as council commented on the conditional subdivision approval for the residential development on Park Lots 20 and 21 along Toronto Street, in Palmerston. Proponents Harj Gill and Rob Wylie hoped the development would be given grandfather status under the existing development charges, and not be assessed the proposed development charges.
Mayor David Anderson pointed out only the county por­tion of the fees would be increasing.
But Gill questioned why it would apply for a new development, since that has been in the works for roughly two years. He also wondered what the impact would be on the sales.
Anderson estimated the new charges would add roughly $700 per house to the cost, which might discourage buyers. Again, he asked why the fees would apply, since one of the delays was waiting nine months to get final approvals for the project.
Anderson explained that development charges are im­plemented at the time a building permit is applied for. While he empathized with the developer’s situation, he recommended the best approach would be to forward the concerns to Wellington County before the fee hike is made.
“We can do nothing as a municipality to stop it … but we need your comments.”
Clerk Barb Wilson said “You are not going to get something … unless you ask for it.”
Which, Anderson said, is the reason local developers were invited to Minto’s council meeting to hear Treasurer Gord Duff’s explanation of the proposed development charge increase by Wellington County.