McCallum Firm Plans For Growth Stymied by Town Impact Fees

6/27/07 Erie Review 

 

Dear Editor:

I recently learned about a unique characteristic of the Town of Erie that will negatively impact my business.  I wanted to bring this fact to the attention of others to provide education about an unusual financial penalty associated with starting and/or expanding a business here in Erie.

I started my business six years ago and it has grown considerably since its inception. To accommodate this growth, I began the process of investigating the costs associated with adding 5,000 square feet to my existing building in downtown Erie. In doing so, I compared the cost of town building permit fees in Erie with its neighboring communities. In Erie, the fees were approximately $10.37 per square foot in contrast to $3.35 in Broomfield and $4.06 in Lafayette. The discrepancy in fees is due to approximately $7.33 per square foot in impact fees charged by Erie in direct contrast to its neighbors. The banks I am talking to for this project are all unwilling to finance these fees and they will have to be paid in cash if and when I pull a building permit.

Ostensibly, these fees are to provide money with which to build new infrastructure to serve new development. My belief is these fees do exactly the opposite as the expansion of my business will have minimal to no impact on the public facilities and/or roads in this community. The fees the town will require me to pay for an addition to my existing building will also be but a drop-in-the bucket when compared to the true costs of new public facilities and/or roads.

I also believe the parties actually responsible for large impacts to the public facilities and roads in our community, such as grocery stores, will be successful at negotiating a rebate or reimbursement of these fees with the town. So, ultimately, it will be the small businesses like mine with the least ability to bear these fees, the least impact on the public facilities and roads and the least contribution to the true costs of these items that will end up paying them.

When I learned that Erie requires payment of fees that neighboring towns do not, I felt my town was evicting me from my home. To stay, I have to pay more than $35,000 that I would not have to pay if I were to move my business. I have always enjoyed living and working in Erie but, in light of the exorbitant fees and Erie’s attitude toward small businesses, it clearly makes no financial or business sense to continue to do so. I am at a loss to explain why Erie has chosen to put a wall around itself in the form of high impact fees that are likely to deter anyone interested in locating and/or expanding their business here.

If you feel this issue is important to our community, I urge you to contact the mayor and board of trustees to share your views (303-926-2700 or bot@erieco.gov).


Jennifer McCallum


Erie
Editor’s Note: Jennifer M. McCallum, Ph.D., Esq., is a biotechnology patent attorney that has received numerous awards in her field, including an appointment by Gov. Bill Owens to the Biotechnology Council for the State of Colorado, was voted one of the 40 top business leaders under the age of 40 by the Denver Business Journal, was voted the Outstanding Woman in Business in 2004 by the Denver Business Journal and has received five appointments as the vice-chair of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Bioethics.

 

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