Pictured: A builder’s sign stakes a place for another home to be built in Greenfield. The city plans to add an impact fee for home builders that would support streets that are increasingly stressed by a growing population. JESSICA KARINS | DAILY REPORTER
Pictured: A builder’s sign stakes a place for another home to be built in Greenfield. The city plans to add an impact fee for home builders that would support streets that are increasingly stressed by a growing population. JESSICA KARINS | DAILY REPORTER
GREENFIELD — Hoping to get some extra help maintaining its streets from developers building in town, the city is making plans to introduce an impact fee for new construction.

With more new businesses and housing developments coming to Greenfield, the fee can be used to repair, improve or widen streets that are seeing increased traffic.

During its recent budget process, the Greenfield City Council approved up to $200,000 to hire a consultant to determine how high its impact fee should be and how it would be assessed.

Mayor Chuck Fewell said the amount of work that goes into maintaining Greenfield’s streets can be invisible to residents, and is all paid for out of the same limited pot of money. This new impact fee should help by supplying more money that can be used to offset the strain on the streets as the city’s population increases.

“There’s never enough money in infrastructure to build, maintain and operate the system,” Fewell said.

The fee will be imposed on developers of commercial and industrial property and on home builders. Existing buildings in the city won’t be impacted and won’t have to pay any additional money.

Impact fees will vary based on the size of a new development and what it is used for. The fee will be assessed using a projection of how many car trips to and from the new property can be expected on a day-to-day basis.

“For every development, we’ll figure out how many trips per day it will generate, and that’s the stress and strain it puts on our existing roads, so that we can make those future improvements to accommodate the residential, the commercial, the industrial that’s coming into town,” city engineer Jason Koch said.

The Institute of Traffic Engineers produces a handbook based on traffic studies that shows how many trips a city can expect to see generated by a given type of property, such as a single-family home, office building, or fast food restaurant.

Road impact fees are already in place in many nearby communities, including Westfield, Johnson County, Fishers and Noblesville. Most impose a fee of about $200 to $300 per trip generated. Some also add a smaller impact fee specifically for bridges.

“We don’t know where that number’s going to end up, because it is very city-specific,” Koch said.

Fewell said the impact fee will also allow the city to funnel more of its money into larger projects, hopefully ones through grants like the Community Connections program that are mostly funded by the state but require a local matching contribution.

“If you don’t have the money to match it, you can’t do very much, so that’s how we’re hoping we’ll use it,” he said.

Koch added that the money from impact fees would only be used to do work on city streets that was caused by increased use related to new development or increased population after the time it is assessed, not to fix existing problems.

Fewell said adding impact fees is important to keeping up with the city’s increased growth.

“If we didn’t have it, they’re still going to be there and they’re still going to impact those roads, and not being able to fix those in the area would just continue to deteriorate what they already have,” he said.

According to census estimates, Greenfield’s population in 2019 was just over 26,000 people, an increase of about 11% since 2010. According to information from the city planner’s office, Greenfield has approved more than 450 permits for homes so far in 2021.

Koch said he wouldn’t expect the impact fee to act as a deterrent for those who want to build in the Greenfield area.

“This is actually a positive for them, because it shows that we’re serious about investing in our infrastructure,” he said. “They benefit, indirectly benefit, from the improvements we’re going to make that are going to make their lives a whole lot easier.”

The city already imposes an impact fee on developers that is directed toward the Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department to keep up with the increased use of the city’s parks system as its population increases. Other Hancock County communities use various types of impact fees as well.
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