AUGUSTA – A major revision in permit application fees has been proposed by the Land Use Regulation Commission in an effort to shift more of the costs to those who use the services.
“The whole revision is to make fees more equitable,” Scott Rollins, LURC’s manager of permitting and compliance, told a commission studying the costs of services in the Unorganized Territory on Tuesday. The proposed revision will require more funds for those applications that take more staff time, he said.
Adjusting the fee schedule is perhaps the best and fairest way to help meet the increase in development in the Unorganized Territory, Karin Tilberg, deputy commissioner of the Maine Department of Conservation, said.
The proposed fee changes, which are expected to generate about $200,000 in new revenue, and a proposed increase in charges to the Unorganized Territory, towns and plantations for LURC services would help offset the cost needed to restore Land Use Regulation staffing to the 2003-2004 level, Catherine Carroll, LURC’s director, said.
That year the staff was reduced from 27 to 22.5, Carroll noted Tuesday. Two senior planner positions were restored in 2005-2006, and those staffers are working on comprehensive planning functions, she said.
The proposed permit application fees are comparable to the fees charged by municipalities, Rollins said.
Under the proposed revision, advisory rulings would increase from $25 to $100. Rollins said LURC’s advice is free, but these fees are for formal written determinations.
For building permit applications, the staff has recommended a base fee of $50 plus costs for the footprint of the building and any disturbed areas as opposed to the current $75 fee. A new house with a footprint of 1,500 square feet would require a $350 fee.
Development permit applications also would change. A new commercial building with a footprint of 1,500 square feet would pay $850 as opposed to a $75 fee.
The average increase in a shoreland-wetlands alteration permit application would be about $130, according to Rollins.
In addition, subdivision permit applications would increase from $300 per lot to a base fee of $1,000 plus $500 per lot created.
The proposed revisions also affect rezoning petitions, home occupation permits, permit applications for utility lines or towers, road permits and water-crossing permit applications.
Public comment on the proposal is now being accepted by LURC.