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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Feb. 7, 201312:00 PM EST

Legislation would waive mobility fee for 3 years: One-year moratorium ended in October

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by: David Chapman

City Council member Richard Clark has introduced legislation to waive the City's mobility fee for three years, a move he said would spur development and create jobs.

"I think we are at a point now where people are making decisions not to develop based on the fees," Clark said. "Whatever little amount of momentum we had we are quickly losing and I don't want to see that happen."

As defined by the ordinance code, the fees are applied to developments to ensure their impact can be absorbed by public facilities. The mobility fee replaced the transportation concurrency management system and fair share assessments in 2011 after Council approval. It is administered by the City Concurrency and Mobility Management System Office.

The mobility fee is required to be paid prior to approval of final construction and/or engineering plans.

The fees were temporarily waived for one year beginning in October 2011 after Council enacted legislation introduced by then-Council Vice President Bill Bishop and several others. The moratorium expired in October with no Council members offering legislation to postpone its sunset.

Clark on Wednesday said there was "no good reason" why the moratorium did not continue other than he thought Council members were working on other projects and thought other Council members would introduce an extension.

"From my perspective, it is a very, very, very simple goal: how do we get people back to work," Clark said.

He said some people have argued economic indicators show growth is already taking place, but the Jacksonville market and job numbers are "tough."

"Just because some public company met profit goals for a quarter, that absolutely has nothing to do with Jacksonville," he said.

The legislation seeks a three-year waiver, but Clark said he originally wanted it to be for five years to ensure projects can be started because "it takes so long just to get through the permitting and engineering process."

Discussion about a potential one-year extension in October drew about two dozen residents to a Council meeting to voice their disapproval of continuing the hiatus, although legislation was not introduced and the waiver expired.

Clark said he expects some groups to oppose the new waiver, but he would still pursue the legislation.

"I wouldn't do it if I didn't believe in it," Clark said.

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