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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Council approves Development Charges Bylaw

by Adam Gault

At the special meeting held on the evening of Tuesday, August 27, at the Essex Municipal Building, Council passed a bylaw to update the Development Charges in the municipality.

Much of the amendment to the Town’s Development Charges will focus on the Harrow area, allowing for no fees for the area for two years, before being re-implemented over the next five, and a full waiver for commercial development outside Harrow’s Community Improvement Plan Area. In addition, some of the charges being lifted for rental and affordable housing.

While charges are being waived for new rental and affordable housing developments, developers will still be on the hook for all waste-water charges.

The approval was the culmination of several previous meetings between Council and administration ahead of the previous Bylaw’s scheduled expiration at the end of August, which first implemented several key features of the new Bylaw, including the exemption for industrial and institutional developments.

Development Chargers are used to help recoup infrastructure and municipal costs when a development and growth are experienced in a municipality, with the waiving of said charges presented as a potential way to attract developers to a specific area.

However, this can lead to lost revenue, which a Town will usually seek to make up through other revenue streams, such as property tax increase or other charges.

Additional exemptions in the Bylaw will fully remove Development Charges for places of worship, cemeteries, public hospitals, and farm buildings constructed for farm uses.

This Bylaw will offer zero development fees in the Harrow Settlement Area, effective now until December 31, 2021. Beginning in January of 2022, developers will pay 25 percent of the development fees; by January 2023, 50 percent; by January 2024, 75 percent, before the return of full charges for developers on January 2025.

Many on Council hope these changes will spark interest from area developers, and encourage an increase in developments in the Harrow area over the next five years.

The decision was passed unanimously by the Town’s Councillors.

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