The Carmel Plan Commission gave a favorable recommendation to a 64 percent increase in the park impact fee, which – if approved by the city council – would make Carmel’s rate nearly three times higher than its neighbors.
The park impact fee, currently at $2,972, is collected for each dwelling unit built in Carmel. It has charged the fee since 2001 to fund park expansions and improvements directly related to increasing capacity to serve a growing population. The proposed impact fee is $4,882.
The fee is often paid by developers, who pass the cost to homebuyers in sale prices. Kate Collins, director of government affairs for the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis, spoke against the amount of the increase at the Aug. 20 plan commission meeting.
“It might not seem like a few thousand dollars is a lot of money, but we have data that shows for every thousand dollars you add to the cost of a new home, more than a thousand households are priced out of the market,” she said, adding that the next highest park impact fee in the area is Fishers at $1,667.
Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation Director Michael Klitzing said as the only Gold Medal Award-winning park system in the area, it makes sense that Carmel’s impact fee is higher than its neighbors.
“That’s because we’ve invested significantly more to maintain that level of service that we have today in our parks and recreation system,” he said. “We have to be able to invest for our new residents that are coming in or that level of service continually declines.”
Klitzing said park impact fees helped CCPR make improvements in Founders Park and expand West Park, and he expects future impact fees will lead to an additional building in West Park and development of new parks in northwest Carmel and along the White River.
The changes approved by the plan commission remove conditions that phase in fee increases. Klitzing said CCPR forfeited nearly $5 million in impact fees because they were previously phased in, leading to delays in park expansions.
The plan commission suspended the rules to approve the changes on the first reading of the ordinance. It requires approval from the city council before taking affect.