WINDHAM — Two new policies go into effect Friday intended to manage growth and protect “legacy taxpayers” from fronting the potential costs of population increase.

The changes approved by the Town Council last month limit the number of building permits the town issues every year and charges residential and commercial developers an additional two, one-time impact fees that will go toward improvements to the public safety and municipal office buildings.

There are already four impact fees on the books in Windham, though the two new fees apply to all developments in the town. The other fees pertain to only certain locations.

“(The ordinances are) another way to limit or direct growth in a way that may be more manageable for the town for keeping up with more services,” Planning Director Amanda Lessard said in July.

The Planning Board voted unanimously not to recommend both measures at their July 13 meeting.

Lessard said this week that she hadn’t heard much feedback from the public about the ordinances, but Dustin Roma of DM Roma Consulting Engineers in Windham says he’s concerned developers will see the policies as burdensome and punitive.

“There shouldn’t be a certain surcharge to punish new developers,” said Roma, who has worked with Windham developers for 16 years.

The permit cap also is problematic, he said.

“Builders will try and obtain them ahead of time and create a monopoly,” he said.

Lessard said that there are certain stopgap measures within the ordinance to avoid that, including a cap on the number of growth permits that can be issued within one subdivision and to one person or corporation in a single year.

She said that she has seen a rush in applications for building permits in the last month since the ordinance passed.

Roma also said that there will be “all these temporary little inconveniences that will add up to major issues,” especially for individuals building their own home, who he said will run into planning challenges if their growth permit application sits on the town’s docket for several months.

Under the Growth Management Ordinance, developers must obtain a growth permit before they can apply for a building permit, which is allowable under state law. In Windham, 100 permits per year will be the maximum, with no more than nine issued in a single month. Senior and retirement housing are exempt from the ordinance.

Roma said that timing will be a key issue if individual home-builders need to lock in an interest rate on a construction loan, for example, but it takes too long to get the growth permit.

Libby said that the Central Station does not have enough room to house all of the department’s trucks and other equipment. Emily Bader / Lakes Region Weekly

Fire/Rescue Chief Brent Libby said on Tuesday that the impact fees are a reasonable way to handle the increase in demand for fire and emergency medical response services. The fees will go toward additions to the public safety building, which was built in the late 1980s and is beyond its capacity to house the full-time fire and police staff that use the building.

“Call volume has gone up 2-2.5% a year … With the growth of the town, the need for our services should increase. (It) seems logical to me that the new people coming in kind of front load that expense and the legacy taxpayer doesn’t have to compensate for that right off the bat.”

The one-time impact fees range from about $300 to $3,500 for residential developments, and for commercial buildings are calculated based on type of use and square footage.

The council must review the Growth Management Ordinance every three years, and the impact fees have a sunset of 20 years.

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