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Town swamped with building applications

Photo by Ryan Salm/Sierra SunTruckee's building department has seen close to a year's worth of activity in 2005 " and it is only June.
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Truckee’s building department has seen close to a year’s worth of activity in 2005 ” and it is only June.

The department, which issued 396 building permits during the entire year of 2004, had already received 302 applications by last week. But building officials say the rush of applications may not signal a mammoth construction year in town ” it reflects the number of builders who attempted to receive a permit before thousands of dollars in new development fees kicked in.

“It appears to us that a lot of people submitted these to beat the fee,” said Tony Lashbrook, Truckee town manager .



The new development impact fee, which went into effect on Monday, adds more than $2,300 to a single family home permit. Similar increases were applied to commercial, industrial and multi-family home permits. The fee will help the town pay for improvements to the police department, storm drainage, animal control and other infrastructure needs that increased population will necessitate, Lashbrook said.

Last week capped off a flurry of building permit submissions, with the department taking in nearly 70 applications on Thursday and Friday alone, said chief building officer Bill Miller. Over the month of May, 129 applications came over the counter at town hall.



“That’s 49 more than any other month in the last five years,” Lashbrook said.

The workload is even heavier since two building inspectors quit recently, although one has been replaced by a temporary inspector and Miller is hiring for the other position as soon as possible.

The department’s goal of having permits issued within four weeks of submittal, which was met 100 percent of the time last year, will likely be unrealistic until the glut of applications before the short-staffed crew can be processed, Miller said.

The town is now trying to determine which applications are a priority and which applicants submitted their paperwork to avoid the increased fee but aren’t in hurry to begin building, said Lashbrook.

Tom Grossman, owner of GLA Real Estate Development, was one of the builders who came in last week to get permits before the fee was added on. He submitted 25 permit applications for his Winter Creek project off of Brockway Road on Friday.

“We knew about it in advance and rushed in to beat it,” Grossman said.

For future projects that will be subject to the new fee, Grossman said he expects home prices to jump to reflect the increased permit price.

“How is it affecting the price of homes overall?” asked Grossman. “Well, it raises the price of a home by $2,400.”

The fee was fair, said Grossman, considering that the town compromised and lowered it significantly from the earliest projections. And the money will go towards real needs. Grossman said he only questions the timing of the new fee.

“These fees should be implemented in the winter and not in the middle of the building season,” he said.


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