Building permit fee reduction earns unanimous vote at Scottsdale council meeting

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On Tuesday, March 17 the Scottsdale City Council unanimously voted to pass a motion to proceed with the McDowell Corridor building permit fee modification.

The McDowell Corridor is an eight-square-mile area south of McDowell Road. Kim Chafin, senior planner of the Corridor said that neighborhood outreach meetings were held in which people “unanimously wanted to bring back the building permit reduction fee.” 

According to Chafin, the cost of building permit fees is an important issue with Corridor citizens when concerning moving forward with home improvement. Chafin added the area “also contains many businesses with a lot of linear development in the 1960s and 1970s, and they need renovation to be able to compete with downtown and Tempe Marketplace.”

Chafin said proceeding with the fee modification will bring public and private investment to the area, additional economic activity, growth in property values and will encourage other owners and businesses to reinvest in their properties. According to Chafin, the new fees would start April 15 and will automatically expire in two years.

Councilman David Smith said “this is a great initiative,” with Councilman Guy Philips adding he “wished we had done this years ago.” The council passed the motion unanimously. 

The council also unanimously approved all Consent Agenda items minus Item 17 concerning transportation for on-call engineering and professional service contracts. Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield presented a motion to pull the item from the regular agenda, questioning the contract concerning the high capacity transit and investigation. 

“I am pulling this contract because on two different votes, the citizens of Scottsdale have voted in huge numbers not to consider light rail or mass transit,” Littlefield said. In response to Littlefield, Paul Basha, the city transportation director said this is not a contract that concerns light rail. Basha added that a list of qualified engineers for the various disciplines are being approved at this point in time. 

“This is looking for transportation that does not have the cost or disruption of light rail vehicles but has the appeal of light rail vehicles,” Basha said. According Basha people in their 20s and 30s are prone to use light rail transit and are equally unlikely to use buses. 

“This particular type of contract would be to investigate possible technologies, and is not designed for any purchases,” Basha said. Smith noted the concern of the $1 million budget per term and what it is for. 

According to Basha, this $1 million is the maximum amount able to be spent should the council approve a budget allowing that large an expense. He added that this fiscal year does not include that much money, and neither does next fiscal year. Smith said he is “not bother by the idea of having a consultant to turn to for their thoughts and analysis for high capacity transportation.”

Finally, the monthly financial update for the City of Scottsdale showed revenue was up 14.4 percent from this time last year, with the entertainment districts showing a seven percent positive variance thanks to having the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl in town. 

“We paid substantial money to make this money, but all for a good cause,” Mayor Jim Lane said.

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