First on the City Council agenda for 2020: a bump in land use application fees.

The intent is to bring Gearhart’s fees in line with other cities, and to meet the cost of processing application fees and planning department resources.

Developers seeking conditional use permits, street vacations and variances could pay fees up to 10 times higher in order to meet the cost of staff reports, maps, legal notices, map searches and appeals, among other tasks.

“This is a project that’s been worked on for some time,” City Administrator Chad Sweet said. “We’re going to talk about building fees and basic permit fees, because we haven’t made changes in 20 years.”

Sweet said fees failed to cover planning costs, leading to a burden made up by taxpayers. “We want to make sure costs are covered for the city,” Sweet said.

In a staff report, City Planner Carole Connell estimated costs associated with conditional use fees at $2,483 — far greater than the current fee of $250, put in place in 2005. Other cities, according to her report, list conditional use fees in a range from $400 to almost $7,000.

imilar increases would be seen across the board for all land use applications. Street vacation filings could rise from $750 to more than $3,000. Subdivisions, with a current fee of $500 plus $10 per lot, could increase to more than $3,300, more in line with fees of other cities.

“When you look at other cities’ fees are, you think, ‘Whoa, we should have looked at this a while ago,’” Mayor Matt Brown said. “I think there’s really no downside to adjusting those fees.”

Discussion of restructuring building fees was delayed, but like the land use fees, will allow the city to become comparable with other cities in Clatsop County.

As for the land use fees, “We’re going to clarify a few of these things and bring it back next month,” Sweet said after Wednesday’s meeting.

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