Since 1990, Ceres has insisted new development pay its own way. Fees climbed, a little or a lot, for 20 years — until Monday night, when they came tumbling down.
Ceres slashed development fees by about 20 percent, or nearly $5,000 per house, at Monday's City Council meeting, effective immediately, said Glenn Gebhadt, interim development services director-city engineer.
"There is always a 60-day delay until they take effect, except when they go down," he said. "I've only been here a year and a half, but with review, I believe this is the first time they've come down."
The drop in development fees, which saves builders $4,778 per house, was based on the county's humbling calculation that land prices in the area had dropped to a quarter of the $200,000 an acre price used for Cere's last fee calculations in January 2009.
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Two projects the fees were supposed to help pay for are not likely to be built anytime soon. The planned $30 million Mitchell Road freeway overpass modification and the $7 million Faith Home River Crossing are "beyond the 20-year time horizon" of the fee schedule, according to a staff report.
In the case of the bridge, Modesto and Riverbank have dropped their plans to build their portions, Gebhadt said with a small grin. "We didn't think building half a bridge would be worthwhile."
The drop in land value was the key change, Gebhadt said, because it affects most infrastructure costs for the city. "We need to have prices reflective of the cost at this time and calculated so we will have adequate money," he said. "Since (land cost) dropped, we felt it was appropriate."
Gebhadt said there are just a few small projects pending in Ceres. One is a planned Rite Aid store.
Other cities in Stanislaus County are considering reducing their building fees. Modesto is one of them. It's awaiting recommendations from a committee the City Council charged with reviewing development fees.
The fees adopted at Monday night's Ceres City Council meeting included:
Single-family home: $20,520, reduced $4,778 or 19 percent
Office space: $8,089 per 1,000 square feet, down $2,250, or 22 percent
Commercial: $11,026 per 1,000 square feet, down $2,913, or 21 percent
Bee staff writer Nan Austin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2339.