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Committee may weigh traffic fees

| Thursday, May 27, 2004

By next year, developers building new homes and businesses in Marshall could have to pay more for needed road improvements -- in turn making it easier for traffic to get around.

Marshall supervisors plan to set up a committee to study whether "traffic impact fees" should be charged to those building in -- and bringing more traffic to -- the community. The committee, which would include township officials and developers, would consider the matter and recommend whether to move ahead with charging the fees.

Though supervisors in the past have voted against assessing the fees, the matter is being discussed again because the township is seeing that more traffic and roads will need to be upgraded to handle the influx, township Manager Neil McFadden said.

Currently, Marshall officials ask developers to contribute to the township's traffic fund but can't require them to do so. In most cases, contributions have been small, ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.

In neighboring Cranberry and Pine, officials years ago imposed traffic impact fees. When Costco built in Cranberry, the company paid more than $680,000 in traffic impact fees.

In Pine, officials expect traffic impact fees to cover about $11.5 million worth of traffic improvements.

Typically, municipalities charge developers the fees based on how much new traffic the development is expected to generate. They specifically look at what will be the busiest two-hour evening span.

In Cranberry, traffic fees average about $1,200 per trip during the peak time. If a development sparks a total of 100 additional trips during its busiest time, the developer would pay about $120,000 in impact fees.

In Pine, developers pay slightly less than $950 per trip, township Manager Gary Koehler said.

McFadden said that if Marshall supervisors decide to move ahead, the next step would be hiring an engineer to detail what road improvements are needed and how much they would cost. The costs would then be broken down and spread among future developers.

The planning process should cost about $100,000 and take a year, McFadden said.

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