The city council on Tuesday took a first step toward a plan to have developers shoulder some of the cost for the city’s growing population by approving a roadway capital improvement plan.
The council’s vote is the first of two steps toward eventually charging developers road impact fees, also called capital recovery fees, which are one-time upfront charges meant to offset some of the costs of building and maintaining roads.
The city already has had some success imposing capital recovery fees for water and sewer connections, Mayor Pat Hallisey said.
The impact fees are not meant to cover 100 percent of the cost of projects, City Manager John Baumgartner said.
City officials have been mulling road impact fees as a means to pay for costs that come with fast growth in Galveston County’s biggest city.
The city’s population in January was just shy of 105,000, up from about 102,634 at the same time in 2017, officials said. But, only about 52 percent of League City is developed and projections show that, once fully developed, the population could rise above 200,000, officials said.
Service areas in the southwestern parts of the city, in particular, could see tremendous growth over the next 10 years, according to a report by Houston-based engineering firm Freese & Nichols.
The two service areas generally to the west of Interstate 45 could almost double during that time period, increasing from about 32,900 in 2017 to about 64,500 in 2027, according to the report.
Overall, the city’s population could increase to about 143,000 by 2027, according to the report.
The council in a 7-0 vote Tuesday approved a tentative list of projects the city might pursue to accommodate that growth, including a controversial extension of Palomino Lane and a bevy of new streets in the undeveloped part of the city, according to city records.
“It is our opinion that Palomino needs to be left on there,” said Edmund Haas, a transportation planning manager with Freese & Nichols. “Wait until the Landing extension is completed, but it shows there will still be heavy traffic on it.”
Residents in the Clear Creek Shores neighborhood have long opposed a proposed bridge that would go over Clear Creek at Palomino Lane. League City officials want to develop the bridge as part of plans to alleviate traffic congestion along FM 518 west of Interstate 45.
Hallisey has suggested the city wait to complete a similar extension of Landing Boulevard and see whether that does enough to make the traffic flow better.
Just because an item is included on the roadway capital improvement plan doesn’t mean city officials have to build it, Haas said.
Instead, it will just help consultants develop more accurate capital recovery fee rates, Haas said.
Councilman Hank Dugie voted Tuesday in favor of the plan, but asked consultants to look at new ways to draw the four service areas to better divide the economic load.
With the approved land use assumptions and capital improvements plan, consultants will now work on calculating specific fees before presenting those findings at a public hearing toward the end of October, Haas said.
City staff expect a final study and presentation on rates to come before the council in the first quarter of 2019, officials said.