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Township moves ahead on impact fees

September 16, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Washington Township will ask for volunteers to help count traffic at key intersections and roads for a roadway analysis that will be part of the process of preparing a transportation impact fee ordinance.

The Washington Township Board of Supervisors Wednesday night met with HRG Inc. to discuss the Harrisburg, Pa., engineering firm's proposal for performing the studies and planning necessary to pass an impact fee ordinance. The fee, which has yet to be set, would be assessed on a new residential and commercial area within a 7-square-mile impact fee zone.

The impact fee ordinance is in anticipation of the road system improvements the township will need due to the rezoning of more than 1,000 acres of mostly agricultural land for residential and commercial use. In addition to the potential for hundreds of new houses, developers are planning a Wal-Mart Supercenter and Lowe's Home Improvement Center in the Rouzerville area.

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"The $250,000 to $300,000 contemplates no assistance from anyone in the township," Township Manager Mike Christopher said of HRG's estimate of the cost of preparing the ordinance. Recruiting volunteers to do the traffic count "can be a way the community can rally around the study and save money" for the township, Christopher said.

The traffic count will be done this fall, possibly around Thanksgiving, Christopher said. It will be conducted during one of two peak traffic periods - 7 to 9 a.m. or 4 to 6 p.m., he said.

"We can mobilize people and give you the help you need," township resident Elena Kehoe said.

HRG Vice President Mark E. Lewis outlined five steps the township needs to take to implement the fee. The township took the first step earlier this year, appointing an advisory committee to help the board of supervisors in developing an ordinance.

The process also includes a land-use assumptions report that will identify areas where future growth is likely to occur. The roadway sufficiency analysis will identify what roads need to be improved to deal with the increased residential and commercial traffic, including a proposed relief route north of Pa. 16.

A capital improvements plan will list specific projects, costs and a timetable for construction of those road improvements, Lewis said.

The final step is preparing the ordinance, which must define the boundaries of the impact fee zone and set impact fees, according to HRG's outline.

"You can gerrymander this around to take in all the areas" where growth is anticipated, Christopher said.

"It's a 7-square-mile amoeba," Lewis said.

Reaching a balance on what the impact fee will be is part of the process, said Matt Radinovic, an HRG traffic engineer. Setting it too high could, he said, "push development where you don't want it."

"We're assuming the number will be around $1,200," Christopher said of the impact fee for a home. The fee will vary depending on how many vehicle trips a property would be expected to generate, he said.

"The whole purpose is for future development to pay its own way," said Steve Stuart, an HRG traffic engineer.

Christopher said the contract with HRG could be approved by the board at its Oct. 4 meeting. The impact fee ordinance would be ready for a vote by August 2005, he said.

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