|City of Thornton Recalibrates Water Supply Strategy
While the City of Thornton and the Larimer County Board of County Commissioners continue their legal battles over a 1041 permit to construct a pipeline to funnel water from the Poudre River down to the city, the municipality is concurrently assessing conditions impacting their long-term water supply strategy. Inflation, construction costs, new PFAS health advisory limits and future water treatment capacity have all impacted how Thornton plans to address its near- and long-term water needs. Given these outstanding issues, one thing for certain is that water-connection fees will undoubtably be going up in the coming years.
At the HBA Thornton Joint Taskforce Meeting last month, we learned that the city is considering increasing connection fees next year from $30,235 to $46,188 to help cover these costs along with the ongoing expenses required to complete the pipeline. The pipeline project could be completed as early as 2026 if and when litigation in Larimer County has finally been resolved. At the request of the HBA, an additional stakeholder meeting was held on September 12 to discuss the builder and developer concerns related to the connection fee increases and to see if there is any possibility of getting them reduced or implemented in a manner that moderates their impact.
It seems that our collective voices did have an impact, and the city has decided to delay its proposed rate increase from January 2023 until sometime in 2024. This will provide all of our active builders in Thornton a better opportunity to prepare for the additional cost adjustments. It also offers us an opportunity for additional discussions on what those fee increases will ultimately look like and how they should be implemented in the first half of next year.
Castle Rock Town Council Set to Pass New Water Conservation Ordinance
On September 19, the Town of Castle Rock will begin final deliberations on a new water conservation measure with an expected implementation date of early 2023. The proposal is expected to be similar to what was recently passed in Aurora, with a prohibition of turf in front yards and a 500 square foot limitation in backyards. The HBA has had several meetings with staff at Castle Rock Water throughout the year to discuss the new ordinance and share our concerns. While we are happy to report that Castle Rock Water will be offering up to $15,000 in incentives to offset the costs associated with the new landscaping requirements, the town will now require both front and backyard landscaping be completed by the builder for them to qualify. We understand this adds another layer of complexity to the building process in Castle Rock. The HBA was present at first reading hearing and testified before the Town Council about our concerns related to this mandate, but unfortunately the Town Council unanimously voted to support the new requirements. The ordinance is expected to pass on second reading later this month.
Commerce City Council to Consider Impact Fee Increases
Yesterday evening, the Commerce City Council was scheduled to take a first reading vote to substantially increase transportation and stormwater fees on residential and commercial development in the city. Due to concerns primarily on how the fees could impacts future retail development, Mayor Huseman stated the issue warranted additional discussion and requested the two items be placed on a study session agenda in the near future.
The current transportation fee for single-family detached homes is $1,181 and would increase anywhere from $2,670 to $6,957, depending on where the development is located. On the stormwater side, the current fee for single-family detached homes is anywhere between $1,700 and $3,053 per developable acre, depending on where the development is located?and would increase anywhere from $36,067 to $54,648 per impervious acre. This would amount to anywhere between $3,481 to $5,269 per single-family lot. Developers that make road improvements in the city would be eligible for credit to help offset these costs.
The city is justifying these increases based on a $633 million shortfall for arterial roadways and the fact that they have not increased in more than 20 years. The city has highlighted similar shortfalls for badly needed stormwater improvements. The proposed increases would apply to all new homes, retail establishments and shopping centers, and a number of different options were presented on where and how they could be implemented.
Additionally, on August 22, the Commerce City Council heard a presentation regarding potential impact fee increases on new residential development to support police, public works, affordable housing and recreational services in the city. The recent study provided a range of fee increase scenarios the Council could potentially approve that could max out at an additional $8,627 per single-family unit.
While we still don't know the final amounts the Commerce City Council will ultimately approve, but all of these impact fees will have a direct impact on building costs and home prices in Commerce City. The HBA attended a stakeholder meeting with city staff last week along with several of the association's active builders within the municipality and expressed our concerns regarding all of the new fees being considered. We will continue to keep you updated on this process.