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Council approves major increase for certain application fees

Feb 23, 2022 07:56PM ● By Travis Barton

A request for more fast-food windows in a restricted zone of the city helped prompt a major fee change. (Flickr)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

A formerly $250 fee will now cost $1,300 after a recent ordinance change.

The over five times increase in cost was approved 6-0 by the West Valley City Council in early February.

The fee is for applications to change zoning ordinances within the city and meant to recoup the actual cost associated with the work involved, city officials said after they did a “detailed analysis.”

“The $1,300 is a real number,” City Manager Wayne Pyle told the council in a study meeting. “It’s not pulled out of the air or estimated even. It was very well-researched.”

What initiated staff to pursue such an increase came when the community and economic development department received a zone change request that would see more fast-food windows allowed along 5600 West in an overlay zone. The application ran counter to the City Council’s policy, having recently implemented the restriction. But the $250 fee proved to be a minimal obstacle.

“The barrier is so minor that they said, ‘Well, we’ll do it anyway,’” said Steve Pastorik, the department’s director. “So the city ends up spending time on something not likely to be approved. This is trying to capture our actual expense going through that effort.”

All fees in the department enter the city’s general fund, but city officials pointed out these types of applications only come a few times a year.

The purpose is not to generate revenue, nor to limit the amount of applications, but to ensure applicants are “really serious” about their request, Pyle said.

Councilman Lars Nordfelt said in the rare case a resident wished to make such a zoning change, the process could work different. Residents could approach a councilmember to bring a potential change to city code forward, and if a majority of the council agreed to pursue it, then city staff would do the necessary work without such a fee.