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O’Fallon discusses traffic-based fees for new developments

At the March 14 O’Fallon City Council meeting, Councilmember Rick Lucas [Ward 1] proposed legislation to amend certain sections of the city’s code that specifically pertained to the standards and fees caused by traffic increases for new development within the city.

Specifically, the bill was proposed to assist city staff in identifying funding sources for road improvements necessary for expanding roadway capacity due to new developments. The bill defines new traffic generation assessment [TGA] fees to be paid by the developers creating new subdivisions, office buildings, retail establishments and restaurants that would cause an expected increase in traffic. Existing buildings would be exempt.

TGA Zone map [City of O’Fallon graphic]

Under the measure, a new fee of $76 will be assigned to each vehicular additional daily trip [ADT] in the area caused by new development.

For example, an estimated 300 ADTs would generate a fee of 300 times $76, or $22,800. The fees would be assessed at the time of the Planning & Zoning Commission’s approval of a proposed development’s construction plan and used by the city to pay for roadway infrastructure improvements necessary to address the projected traffic increase. If the developer installs infrastructure improvements, such as road widening and traffic signals, the cost will be credited against the city-imposed fee. An option for payment of the fee in five installments over five years, with 3-percent interest added would be available.

Funds collected from the new fee would be allocated within seven different districts in the city to ensure that traffic infrastructure upgrades are associated with the same area actually affected by the new development. The boundaries of the districts were established following a 2009 study of O’Fallon’s retail and commercial areas.

The TGA-based bill is expected to level the playing field for big and small developers by enabling the developer to know up-front the cost of required road improvements, ensure the fees will be used in the same area as the new development and assure the developer that the road-improvement fees will not exceed the calculated TGA. The funds also could be used by the city to match grant funding for larger road improvement projects.

The bill is the result of city staff and committee research and studies dating back to August 2017 when questions were first posed about expected traffic increases from then-proposed new developments along Bryan Road. As a result, the council requested the development of a new policy.

A traffic generation subcommittee spearheaded efforts to study the information and options available. The research included a study conducted out of Columbia, Missouri, that reviewed community response to traffic impacts in 40 other cities. The committee also examined St. Louis County’s traffic generation assessment, which was set up in the early 1980s and based on the projected number of parking spots within a development. St. Louis County’s TGA has been upheld through a number of court challenges.

No other city in St. Charles County uses TGA funds, meaning O’Fallon would be the first. After numerous iterations of proposals and discussions for an O’Fallon plan, the Planning & Zoning Commission recommended approval on March 7.

A first reading and public hearing on the bill was conducted on March 14. A second reading of the bill is expected to be on the agenda for the upcoming March 28 meeting.

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