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Building a home, a business or anything else on DeBary’s southwest side may soon cost more.

On Dec. 4, the City Council tentatively approved charging builders and developers a new fee, known as a mobility fee, to help pay for new roads, road improvements, trails, and other transportation-related projects around the SunRail depot and Lake Konomac.

The projects may include bicycle lanes and planning for “micro-transit,” which is defined as unconventional ways of getting from place to place, such as electric scooters or driverless vehicles.

“This gives us a substantial, predictable money source,” Mayor Karen Chasez said.

Unlike road impact fees, mobility fee revenues may be used for projects other than simply adding “new capacity” to the transportation network. That’s the only thing road impact fees may be used for.

The mobility fees, if enacted, will be added to the cost of new development in southwest DeBary, along with the road impact fees charged by Volusia County and the “proportionate share” payments required of developers by the city.

The targeted zone — in which the fees will be imposed and the new revenues will be expended — is roughly defined as west of U.S. Highway 17-92 and south of a portion of West Highbanks Road.

The city manager emphasized the necessity for the new fee.

“If we don’t have a mobility fee … we are going to put this cost on the backs of residents,” City Manager Carmen Rosamonda said.

The City Council voted unanimously in favor of the mobility fee, but two votes are required. Final action on the ordinance is set for Jan. 8. If approved again, the mobility fee will become effective 90 days later, in early April.

The city will collect the fee before issuing a certificate of occupancy — the document required to move into and use a new home or other building.

“Who’s paying for it? It’s the people buying new homes,” Council Member Stephen Bacon said.

The decision to charge the mobility fee resulted from a study by Jonathan Paul, of NUE Urban Concepts LLC, a Gainesville consulting firm.

Paul identified $15 million worth of infrastructure and capital needs in the southwest sector, and said the mobility fee would cover much of the growth-related needs.

“If all that development occurs, it could generate about $10 million,” Paul said.

The area in question, which includes DeBary’s Transit Overlay District and other properties, is indeed ripe for massive growth, according to city officials.

“If you don’t take this action, … we’re going to be behind the eight ball,” Rosamonda said. “The mobility fee will have a separate trust fund. … It can only be spent … to handle the growth that’s going to occur.”

Vice Mayor Erika Benfield voiced her support.

“We should have a fee in place to reduce our taxes,” she said.


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