Trafalgar council OKs planning and zoning fee increase

Trafalgar raised some of its planning and zoning fees for builders by over 40%.

The Trafalgar Town council voted unanimously last week to set these new fees. This vote came after several discussions among members to raise the fees to remain comparable with other towns.

Discussion on raising planning and zoning fees started in August and September last year. Council member Jerry Rafferty — who has a background in construction as the owner of Rafferty Construction — said Trafalgar’s fees were too low compared to other areas. Trafalgar’s fee schedule was last updated in 2011, according to town documents.

These fees include what builders pay to build structures in town, from houses to commercial buildings. Builders pay different fees to the town planning and zoning department for inspections, plat requests or rezone petitions. These fees don’t directly apply to residents in town, but could indirectly affect the costs to buy new houses or buildings, as builders would likely pass on the fee to customers.

Council member Kyle Siegfred, who is also the planning commission president, put together a new fee schedule for the town council in September. That fee schedule was a copy of the town of Whiteland’s fees, which would have been a 20% increase to Trafalgar’s current fee schedule. Previously, the fee for a new construction permit for a residential single-family home was $250 plus 10 cents per square foot. This proposal from Siegfred would have bumped the fee to $300.

The council held that proposal from September to do further research. It did not come up again until their March 16 meeting.

There, Council President Jessica Jones proposed a 20% increase across the board to the new fee schedule presented to them. She said it would make them comparable to areas like Bargersville and Franklin, along with the other towns who are also in the process of raising their fees too.

“I looked around us. We are in line or a little bit lower than most of their fee schedules,” Jones said. “I feel like 20% adding that across the board will be sufficient for now.”

She added the town needs to review its fee schedules on a yearly basis to keep them up to date.

Under the new increase, the cost of a permit for a new residential build is now $360 plus 12 cents per square foot, with an inspection fee of $312. A new commercial building permit is $480 plus 12 cents per square foot with an inspection fee of $360. The new ordinance also outlines a $100 fee for starting construction on a residential lot without a permit for residential construction and $500 for commercial. Re-inspection fees increased from $50 to $60 per item.

This ordinance also raised fees for other construction such a remodels, accessory structure, detached garages, re-roofing, and installing swimming pools.

Petition fees that go before the planning commission were also increased as part of this ordinance. Some fees were just increased by 20% from the previous fees. An annexation petition increased from $250 to $360 and $18 per acre, and a rezone petition fee increased from $250 to $300. A primary plat petition for a major subdivision fee increased from $300 plus $5 per lot to $660 plus $18 per lot.