By a 4-1 vote, the Atherton City Council agreed Aug. 18 to refund about $427,000 in road-impact fees to builders who engaged in major home construction or remodels between Aug. 17, 2007, and Sept. 18, 2009.
During that time, the town had an elevated road-impact fee -- increased by 40 percent by the council in an August 2007 vote. The newly approved refund will be limited to the additional money paid by builders as a result of that fee hike.
The fee was charged to developers to compensate the town for damage done to roads by construction vehicles.
Councilman Jim Dobbie was the sole opponent of the refund. He has contended that the road damage by heavy trucks justified the fees, and that the fees are not a disincentive to construction.
Many cities charge the fee to developers and contractors, but a type of road-impact fee was recently and successfully challenged in court.
Go to this link and turn to Page 130 for an overview of the refunding procedure.
In July, Councilwoman Elizabeth Lewis responded to Mr. Dobbie's opposition to refunds with a single word: "Lawsuits." That has happened.
The Pacific Peninsula Group, a developer that frequently builds in Atherton, filed suit in San Mateo County Superior Court on Aug. 16 demanding refunds.
On Aug. 18, the council rejected Pacific Peninsula's claim for a road-impact fee refund of $298,145.
In the 4-0 vote, Councilman Charles Marsala recused himself. Asked why, Mr. Marsala said that he is not obligated to explain. "I just felt using my discretion at this point was a prudent thing to do."