Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Donít weave a tangled web

Hailey resident Bob Wiederrick is legally entitled to circulate a referendum petition seeking to repeal Hailey's Development Impact Fee Ordinance. But Mr. Wiederrick should not disseminate false information. In his petition, Mr. Wiederrick states "the imposition of (a development impact fee) on the landowners or developers amounts to an unlawful tax and infringes on private property rights." In a recent letter to the editor, Mr. Wiederrick also argues that a district court decision involving McCall's affordable housing ordinances somehow means the Hailey Development Impact Fee is illegal.

For two reasons, Mr. Wiederrick's legal arguments are misplaced. First, Hailey's Development Impact Fee Ordinance is authorized under the Idaho Development Impact Fee Act. Second, comparing McCall's housing ordinances to Hailey's Development Impact Fee Ordinances is like comparing apples to oranges. The judge in the McCall decision found that McCall's housing ordinance imposed a subsidy that was not appropriate under the Development Impact Fee Act. In contrast, the Hailey ordinance complies with the Development Impact Fee Act.

Simply put, it is inappropriate to argue that Hailey's Development Impact Fee Ordinance is illegal. It is appropriate, however, to debate whether existing residents or new development should pay for the financial burden of new development. The purpose section of the Development Impact Fee Act states that development impact fees are intended to "promote orderly growth and development by establishing uniform standards by which local governments may require that those who benefit from new growth and development pay a proportionate share of the cost of new public facilities needed to serve new growth and development." Hailey chose to legally place the burden on new development, not the existing residents.

Ned C. Williamson

Hailey city attorney

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