How About A Break For Developers

Back in the early 70’s, the City of Naperville passed an ordinance which mandated that developers pay a fee or provide land, to accommodate the effect the development will produce. Land could be used for parks, schools, or community enhancement. The concept worked quite well as Naperville’s growth era boomed.

However, now nearly a half-century later, most of Naperville’s larger plots of land, have been developed, leaving smaller plots for smaller developments. For smaller developers, these opportunities can be trickier when it comes to finances and specifically the impact fee required by the City.

The word ‘impact’ is defined as ‘something coming in forcible contact with something else’. In this case the ‘something’ is the City of Naperville, and the ‘something else’ is the developer. We know who typically wins that one, unless of course it goes to court as in the case of the Smart Meter lawsuit, when the resident prevailed.

The impact fee is not a court candidate. However, the fee should be a candidate for reconsideration by the Naperville city council. The economy is sluggish, and the little guy needs a break, in this case the developer is that little guy, that could use a break.

During the last Naperville city council meeting, developer Paul Troppo of Naperville asked for a break, for the $125,000 impact fee he is required to cough-up to city officials. He’s not asking for the fee to be waived, or reduced. He simply would like to pay the fee when he obtains his building permits, rather than when his plans are submitted. It seems like a reasonable request.

Typically Naperville city officials want, what they want, when they want it, which typically is now. If money is coming in, they want it yesterday. If money is going out, well that can wait til sometime in the future. Unless, of course, the City is hauled into court and required to make residents whole again. There are few of those situations coming down the pipeline.

The only Naperville council member willing to show support for the developer’s request, is councilman Kevin Coyne, who said, “We’re not taking money away ‘from the city’, we’re simply delaying it”.

Government compassion is an oxymoron, but councilman Coyne, in this case, is willing to ‘stand up’ for compassion and understanding. That’s good news. The not-so-good news is that it will require four more council members with compassion to join him.

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