Don't blink -- or maybe you should
It’s Wednesday and I have a list that’ll blow your socks off.
The County Commission had a great conversation Tuesday about residential road repaving. Probably the first time I’ve seen a full board, staff and public engaged in identifying issues about repaving and ways to solve them. (Here’s my Florida Politics story.)
The conversation meandered to road capacity, which is not road resurfacing. Exceeding road capacity is the government term for sitting in traffic through three cycles of red lights. Or, basically what we’re staring at on nearly every major intersection in the county.
Too many cars and not enough room to move them along at a normal pace.
That means it’s impact-fee time.
Commissioners have workshops in June to talk about doubling the transportation impact fee. All new construction pays an impact fee to offset the costs of growth.
The house impact fee is $6,017, of which transportation is the second biggest chunk (behind schools) at $1,932. There are other categories as well.
Don’t get me started on the politics of impact fees. I will say this: County commissioners have historically bowed to the wishes of the building industry and kept impact fees at a minimum — 50% of a consultant’s recommendation for roads, for example.
I doubt any significant reservation is an issue today for commissioners who are staring at traffic nightmares in the making on their watch. Commissioner Jeff Kinnard, for one, talked Tuesday like he couldn’t double the transportation impact fee fast enough.
It's a timing issue. The county needs to jump on this yesterday and commissioners know it.
As the various zoning applications ease through their process, the county will (we hope) fast track the impact-fee review process so the county can start capturing funds for the road projects this growth will necessitate. We’ve missed a lot already and the next rush is about to take place.
Hence, my list.
Every month Joanna Coutu, the county’s highly respected and dedicated land development director, sends out to interested parties an email titled, “Look what’s coming.” It’s an update on permits and projects of interest.
Well, I got that thing on Friday and it packs a punch. Here’s an idea of projects now in the works. (Feel free to gasp like I did):
(Breathe Pine Ridge, just breathe…)
And here’s a rapid fire handful of permits either issued or applied for:
See where I’m headed? It’s easy to get overwhelmed and blame current or former politicians for not planning better. That's also a waste of breath.
No, this issue is now. We should confront it head-on, as a community and hash it all out.
A good impact-fee debate will do that. I've been through them all. None more important than this one.
I was impressed with the board’s conversation on roads. We’re not close to where we want to be but each step in the right direction should not be overlooked.
P.S. The county supplied that very cool photo with today's blog. It's from the first phase of the C.R. 491 widening project a few years back. I hesitated using it because it's not from our current batch of earth pushing projects and could be misleading. I decided to go with it for two reasons:
1. Just liked the photo. Simple as that.
2. Late night editing so I relied on reason No. 1.
Enjoy your day, friends.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 35 years.