A decision on whether to refund to some developers who paid into the Leesburg’s parking fund divided the Town Council on Monday night, which ultimately did not move ahead with the idea for now.
The council was considering whether to issue a partial refund to some downtown developers who participated in the payment in lieu of parking program, choosing to pay a $6,000-per-parking-space fee rather than constructing the required on-site parking for their development. Councilwoman Suzanne Fox said she brought forward the proposal because the council last year adopted new ratios for both residential and commercial development, which in some cases lessens the parking space requirements and would lower the amount a developer would be required to pay. She said she brought the proposal forward on behalf of PR Construction, which has contributed more than half of the money in the town’s parking fund—$200,000 of the current $360,000 total.
Brian Boucher, deputy director of the Planning and Zoning Department, said the staff is recommending against the partial refund. He noted that the council directed a separate interest-bearing escrow account be created in summer 2017 for payment in lieu of parking fees. If the council had chosen to do away with the payment in lieu of parking option, developers could be issued a refund at their request. Boucher said the partial refund could raise a question of fairness for other developers who have previously paid into the program and that it could significantly deplete the town’s parking fund.
Fox and council members Tom Dunn and Ron Campbell all indicated an interest in moving forward with the partial refund, with Dunn taking it a step further and saying he would be in favor of refunding all developers and creating a different and better system. Mayor Kelly Burk, Vice Mayor Marty Martinez and Councilman Neil Steinberg all voiced opposition to the refund.
“I’m very concerned when we start to legislate for individuals. We need to be looking at what’s good for the town, what’s good for the residents,” Burk said.
Councilman Josh Thiel was absent for the meeting. Without a fourth council member in support of moving the item forward, the discussion was not expected to be placed on another meeting agenda.