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Impact fees fail to make city agenda

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

For more than two months, the topic of impact fees in the city of Williston has been a recurring theme at council meetings.
It looks like the issue will continue to linger after council failed to act Tuesday night on the moratorium that is set to expire March 20.
In a Feb. 21 workshop, the council asked the city  manager to make a recommendation this week on the state of the fees, assessed to new construction for the purpose of expanding water and sewer lines.
But the topic was not on the agenda and Council President Jason Cason said it wasn’t because the city must advertise 10 days in advance of reading an ordinance. The timing of the workshop and the publication schedule did not mesh with the March 5 meeting, Cason  said.
Local restaurant owner David Bibby, operator of Pyper Kub, told the council that he was the business referenced Feb. 21 by City Manager Scott Lippmann, who said he’d discovered one business that had paid $12,000 in impact fees and a similar business had paid zero.
“It’s an outrage,” Bibby said. “I could have had another employee if I had not had to pay the $12,000. Let’s level the playing field.
“I’d like to see me get  my money back but you’re not going to do that,” he continued. “I’d like to see the other business pay.”
Bibby said he had brought this situation to staff’s attention in the past to no avail. One staff member covered his ears, Bibby said, to avoid hearing it.
“My next step is to take action,” Bibby said, “and I don’t want to do that.”
Cason said the council, this council, was attempting to establish a process to ensure impact fees would be fair and equitable in the future.
As it stands now, the moratorium expires March 20 and it will be at least April 2 before council will take action on the matter.
That means, Cason said, there will be 13 days when impact fees will be levied in Williston.
City Attorney Fred Koberlein also offered at the conclusion of the meeting that the legal requirement for advertising is before the second reading, and while it is good to let citizens know about pending actions he said, the advertising is only necessary for the second reading of an ordinance.