Commission approves Homewood fee waiver

By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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A development agreement between Homewood Lumber and the Town of Loomis has been modified to lower fees by the planning commission and passed on to town council for a decision. “Cities commonly use development agreements with businesses, depending on the complexities of the property and size of the business,” said Perry Beck, Loomis town manager. Beck said Homewood Lumber is Loomis’ “largest sales tax generator” and the waived fees would be recouped in sales tax in three to seven years, depending on the economy. The plan waives and reduces development fees for Homewood Lumber’s new location on the corner of Sierra College Boulevard and Brace Road. The fees originally would have been $918,252, but the proposal lowers them to $75,000. “I think that to keep a significant employer and sales tax generator in town is important to maintain the economic viability of the town,” Beck said. The commission approved the plan in a 4-to-1 vote with one minor revision regarding tree mitigation. The recommendation was moved by commissioner Greg Obranovich and seconded by commissioner Jo-Carol Arisman. Commissioner Janet Thew voted no and said, “This is a horrible deal for the town.” The development agreement proposes to offset development and road improvement fees of $294,757 with the value of the wetlands Homewood will offer as an “irrevocable dedication in perpetuity” to the town. The rest of the waived fees involve tree mitigation. Homewood could choose to pay $528,500 in mitigation fees or plant 1,057 trees. The agreement would allow Homewood to provide the town with 100 trees per year for planting until 1,057 trees have been provided. Normally, the developer has to plant and maintain the trees for five years. The modification made by the planning commission to the development agreement was to lengthen the term of the agreement to 15 years to ensure all of the trees would be planted. Beck pointed out that all of the fee amounts are estimates and can’t be determined exactly until building permits are pulled. A neighbor of the Homewood site expressed concern about the fee reduction. “It seems the town is going to bend over backwards for Homewood,” said Brace Road resident Gerald Neal. According to commissioner Jean Wilson, it’s “not all that unusual” for fee arrangements to be made with businesses and pointed out that an arrangement for fees was made with Raley’s when they came to Loomis. “I want to see Loomis as a viable community for the future where we don’t have to raise taxes because we (will) have a viable business base,” said Mike Hogan, commission chairman. a