The city of Atlanta’s impact fees are being amended for the first time in nearly 30 years, and the change will bring increased fees across the board.

Impact fees are a one-time charge issued on a new or proposed development project to pay for all or a portion of the costs of providing public services to the new structure(s). Atlanta’s development impact fee program has not been updated since being established in 1993, three years after the state law was approved.

At its March 1 meeting, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Atlanta City Council voted to approve the 2020 development impact fee study and update the city’s impact fee ordinance (Legislative Reference No. 21-O-0096).

According to the ordinance document, the city hired Duncan Associates to finish an update to the ordinance that would “1) redefine levels of service, 2) modify transportation fee programming, 3) change land-use categories, 4) fund exemptions and 5) implement changes to impact fee program administration.”

The impact fee study states fees will go up substantially due to inflation and rising construction costs incurred since 1993. Single-family homes’ fees will increase from $1,544 for north Atlanta and $1,380 for south/west Atlanta to a $4,914 average citywide, with prices different for homes less than 1,500 square feet, 1,500 to 2,499 and at least 2,500.

Multi-family home fees will rise from $867 for north Atlanta and $743 for south/west Atlanta to a range of $2,078 to $2,961 depending on the number of stories. The fees will also increase for all other types of developments, ranging from office buildings to retail/commercial space to hospitals, churches and schools.

District 8 Councilman J.P. Matzigkeit did not return a phone message seeking comment about the ordinance amendment, but in his email newsletter, he addressed the issue.

“Impact fees haven’t been updated since (1993), and these fees could bring in millions to the city for such things as road and sidewalk improvements, new multi-use trails and public safety infrastructure,” he said. “It also brings the city up to parity with other cities in metro Atlanta and around the country.”

Matzigkeit’s newsletter also cited a statement from Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ office in which she said the hike in impact fees was long overdue.

“Atlanta has maintained one of the lowest impact fee levels in the nation during a period when its population went from declining to an increase of more than 25%,” she said.

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