Council discusses updating Town's mobility fee program

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 0 Comments

 

Citing flaws in Miami Lakes’ mobility fee for development projects which pays for offsite traffic improvements to accommodate additional trips, the Miami Lakes Town Council is planning to tweak the program to assure the method is fair to all property owners. 

The one-time charge on new developments apparently doesn’t sit well with some developers, including the property owners for Miami Lakes Auto Mall, who claimed they must pay a higher fee than others based on the formula the Town uses to determine the rate for trips per day on a street.

During the January Town Council meeting, Councilmember Luis Collazo spearheaded the mobility fee change after he learned the rate for the Auto Mall is higher to build a new parking garage, and proposed some options such as taking a hybrid model approach and dividing the town into districts.  

Although council members agreed the mobility fee structure needs to be reevaluated, they rejected Collazo’s two proposals and any suggestions of bringing back traffic currency for development projects, which they said has been a big failure for years.

While they scrutinize the mobility fee later this year, lawmakers said they will make the necessary changes without defeating the sole purpose of the program.

A consultant, who created the mobility fee for the town to adopt in 2015, told council members to wait three years to review it to determine if it works.

Collazo said since the mobility fee went into effect, significant changes have occurred that merit a review and possible change of the program, including the type of impact the fee would have over time on developments.

“The mobility fee ordinance has been in place for over a year and as a result we now have a better understanding of the intended and unintended consequences of the fee,” Collazo said during the one hour and 15-minute debate on the issue. “With this knowledge we have an opportunity to review and ensure that the mobility fee is accomplishing its objective.”

In addition, Collazo said the town’s road impact fees to pay for transportation upgrades have accelerated some of the much needed traffic improvements conceivably faster than the mobility fee since few developments were built under the program.

The Lennar Corporation, which is building single-family and town homes west of N.W. 87 Avenue and Miami Lakes Drive, and The Graham Companies’ commercial project on Main Street, so far have paid the mobility fee for their developments.

Collazo also said the mobility fee might have exacerbated the traffic congestion instead of mitigating the gridlock.

“I saw we have an opportunity to cure the unintended forecast to tweak the model to serve our long term goals,” Collazo said. “We need to revise the current fee structure.”        

Town Manager Alex Rey said, so far, the mobility fee has generated about $700,000 and more developments in the town’s pipeline are planning to go up this year and in 2009.

He said some developers pay a higher fee than other property owners based on the number of trips their projects are projected to generate on a daily basis. 

“Some areas are more because they have the most traffic,” Rey said.

The fee can only be used for traffic improvements in the area for a new building. 

“If area A generates the fee, the money must be spent in area A,” Rey said.

Mayor Manny Cid said the town will review the program but he will not support bringing back traffic concurrency for developments in lieu of the mobility fee.

 

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