- Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 May 2012 15:52
- Published on Wednesday, 02 May 2012 15:52
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Mike Dzaman and Jon Natelson, builders of Monroe Point Development have been trying for years to convince Colonial Beach Town Council that raising water and sewer connection fees (tap fees) would have a negative financial impact on the town.
The pair spoke out with Northern Neck and Trinity Builders at last week’s public works committee meeting, as a last attempt to get an answer to their request for lower tap fees.
Committee members Mike Ham and Gary Seeber have been trying to get the council to look at the issue and make a final decision.
But at the end of last week’s meeting the committee did not appear to be any closer to a definite decision and Town Clerk Kathy Flanagan reported that she has not yet been instructed to draft a
resolution concerning the tap fees.
Natelson, at the request of Gary Seeber, checked and reported on connection fees for Westmoreland County in relation to Colonial Beach.
Natelson said, “Part of the county does have water service, where the county provides sewer service, the connection fees are much less than Colonial Beach charges.”
Natelson reported that Montross charges $3,500 and connecting to Colonial Beach from the county costs $6,800. Connecting to the county water system costs $500.
“You have to pay $12,000 to connect in the town of Colonial Beach to the same water and sewer system that residents right outside of town connect to.”
Natelson said, “We projected your revenues would go down if you doubled tap fees in 2009. We also pointed out that Potomac Crossing would probably never be built out or at least not in the foreseeable future.”
Natelson feels that because tap fees increased by $6,000 since the start of the project the value of the land on a 900-unit development essentially reduces in value by over five million dollars.
Natelson said these were not exact figures.
Mike Dzaman explained why the town granted Monroe Point a reduction in tap fees for their multi-unit town-homes but feels every builder should be given a break on fees.
“What we’re talking about is all gravy, when we hook up a new house it costs the town nothing.
We put in the off site improvements, taking the water and sewer to our development from pump stations and the water main. We put out our own pump station to pump the sewage back uphill to your pump station all at our cost at about 20 grand a year.”
Dzaman feels that Monroe point is being charged a legislative fee to hook up to the town’s water and sewer arguing, “It doesn’t cost the town a thing. You do no work, you provide no materials, so this is all money in your pocket.”
Both Dzaman and Natelson argue that population growth is what will bring business into the town. Dzaman ended by saying, “If you are a pro-growth council which we believe you to be, I think what you should be doing is making it easy for us to build new homes. Residents pay taxes, eat in the restaurants and shop at the stores.”
Natelson said, “Everyone on council keeps expressing a desire to be more business friendly to bring more business in. The answer to more business is to grow the population. Commerce always follows population growth.”
Randal Wright, a managing member of Northern Neck told committee members that his company has built 60 homes, 4 of which they paid the $12,000 tap fee.
As a result of the higher fees Wright said, “We have bought older houses and torn them down,” paying the100 dollar reconnect fee. “Now,” Wright said, “it’s a $300 fee to put a meter in. So instead of having two houses on your tax base you still have only one.”
Wright said his company has saved so much money building in the county and also feels the higher tap fees devalue the properties by $6,000.
Steve Cirbee, of Trinity Building Company began by saying, “… under Virginia legislative code, issues pertaining to the maintenance, service and operation of your existing water and sewer system, the actual piping in the ground and stuff, has to be paid for under your water and sewer usage fees.”
Cirbee added, “Connection fees under the code has got to be relative to the cost of making the connection.”
Cirbee believes however that if the sewage plant has to be increased to add more homes and handle the capacity, a factor could be put in to a connection fee that can associate with the expansion of the system.”
Cirbee continued to quote laws without reference numbers saying the town attorney could provide that information, “But also under the state of Virginia we are not allowed to, without a legislative amendment for the town of Colonial Beach, we can not impose an impact fee on developers”
Cirbee argued that impact fees cannot be created by a town or a municipality without legislative approval from the state.
Tim Trivett spoke as a citizen and argued that higher tap fees were not the only reason builders focused on county building, saying, “When the county got the water and sewer out there, there were hundreds of lots that were undeveloped because they wouldn’t perk, so builders went out there because those lots were selling cheap and you could buy them at a good price and now it has water and sewer hookup. So it’s not just because of the fees you’re charging here in town.”
Trivett is concerned that the builders want to cut costs to move houses quickly and said, “When they’re finished they’re gone and the town is left trying to figure out how they are going to pay for services needed such as fire department and rescue squad.
“What do you tell the people who bought those units for $400,000 then they sell others for $200,000?”