Devel­op­ment fee elim­i­nated near high­way

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Erin Douglas

It just got a lit­tle bit cheaper to start con­struc­tion near the E-470 toll­way.

The E-470 Pub­lic High­way Au­thor­ity’s board of di­rec­tors voted last week to elim­i­nate a devel­op­ment fee charged on all new con­struc­tion within 1½ miles of ei­ther side of the 47-mile high­way that loops around the east­ern edge of metro Den­ver.

The fee had be­come more work than it was worth and elim­i­nat­ing it will free up re­sources for lo­cal gov­ern­ments and en­cour­age busi­nesses to lo­cate along the cor­ri­dor, ac­cord­ing to rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the high­way and the cities and coun­ties through which it runs.

Im­ple­mented in 1989, the high­way-ex­pan­sion fee pro­duced about $300,000 for the toll road each year. But E-470 of­fi­cials said the rev­enue was neg­li­gi­ble com­pared with the $200 mil­lion in rev­enue the toll­way re­ports each year, about 85 percent of which comes from tolls.

The fee was an im­por­tant source of rev­enue to get the toll­way project off the ground. While the road was still un­der con­struc­tion, and in the years be­fore it be­came a pop­u­lar route, the devel­op­ment fee was one of the

sources of cash for the toll­way au­thor­ity.

Though all of the rev­enue went to E-470, the county or city is­su­ing the build­ing per­mit cal­cu­lated and pro­cessed the fee, which the board said placed a sig­nif­i­cant ad­min­is­tra­tive bur­den on staffing re­sources.

“Build­ing per­mit re­quests con­tinue to go up each quar­ter,” said Ara­pa­hoe County pub­lic works spokes­woman Caitlin Wil­son. “From our per­spec­tive, (dis­con­tin­u­ing the fee) will elim­i­nate some back-end pa­per­work for us to do more in­spec­tions.”

The E-470 cor­ri­dor goes through eight lo­cal gov­ern­ments: Adams, Ara­pa­hoe and Douglas coun­ties, and the cities of Aurora, Brighton, Com­merce City, Parker and Thorn­ton. Each lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity had its own rate for the high­way ex­pan­sion fee, de­pend­ing on the type of build­ing and spe­cific lo­ca­tion of the devel­op­ment.

“As devel­op­ment grew in the E-470 cor­ri­dor, the num­ber of high­way ex­pan­sion fees grew,” said E-470 spokesman Dan Christo­pher­son. “Lo­cal gov­ern­ments were see­ing their pro­cess­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive bur­den grow­ing to a tip­ping point.”

While this fee was elim­i­nated for de­vel­op­ers look­ing to move near Den­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port and gain easy ac­cess to a ma­jor high­way around east­ern Den­ver, E-470 in­creased tolls in the past year.

The high­way’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Tim Stew­art, said tolls were in­creased to help ser­vice the $1.5 bil­lion in debt the high­way au­thor­ity took on to build the ex­press­way. Stew­art said he doesn’t think the fee stopped de­vel­op­ers con­sid­er­ing build­ing near the high­way, but he hopes elim­i­nat­ing it will help spur growth in the re­gion.

“We be­lieve there will be con­tin­ued devel­op­ment along E-470,” Stew­art said. “The east side of Den­ver is ripe for devel­op­ment, so I think it’s go­ing to be a very vi­brant area. I think the lo­cal ju­ris­dic­tions have done an ex­tremely good job of at­tract­ing that along the cor­ri­dor. We’re just happy to do any­thing we can help stim­u­late that.”

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