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Homebuilders group sues county over impact fees
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Download a copy of the suit by clicking here: 

Suit over impact fees, ordinance

Bryan County is being sued over impact fees by the Greater Savannah Homebuilders Association.

In a statement sent Thursday afternoon, County Commission Chairman called the suit “unfortunate.”

Here’s the county’s statement in full:

“It is unfortunate that the Home Builders Association of Greater Savannah have taken this approach but after receiving input from a large number of Bryan County residents, we undertook a process to strengthen our development codes and to reduce the property tax burden on current residents that can come from providing a sound road network necessary to accommodate the growth we are experiencing.  That process includes the development and implementation of an interim development ordinance and an impact fee program. Both of these initiatives were undertaken in a very transparent method that is consistent with state law and are commonly used by growing communities such as ours in the state of Georgia. It is evident that our efforts are in the best interest of current and future Bryan County residents in the context of providing the vital services that accompany a growth in population.”

Here's a press release from the association:

Bryan County recently passed two ordinances that go way beyond the government’s powers by restricting private property rights and making new homes unaffordable for teachers, first responders, military and other moderate income homebuyers in Bryan County.  If home ownership is the American Dream, then these ordinances unnecessarily push that dream out of reach for too many Bryan County citizens. 

The government’s job is to serve its citizens by passing regulations that promote and protect health, safety and welfare.  The government’s job is not to design our homes or reset housing prices.

Under its newly enacted Interim Development Ordinance, Bryan County is telling private property owners how they must design their homes.  For example, the County is requiring roof and garage designs that go far beyond the government’s role to protect health and safety.   Instead of helping citizens, these requirements only serve to increase the cost of home ownership to the detriment of our citizens.  

At the same time, the County has enacted an unlawful Impact Fee Ordinance, which charges new homeowners and businesses excessive fees for traffic improvements.  On top of the substantial increases in cost caused by the development ordinance, under the impact fee ordinance, homebuyers will pay an additional $3,128 for new homes.  For Bryan County citizens hoping to open their own businesses, the situation is even worse.  A new fast food restaurant could pay $310,000 in impact fees, a gas station and convenience store could pay $500,000 in impact fees, and medical offices could pay between $70,000 and $115,000 depending on their size.  There  is a clause that allows the County to exempt some businesses from the ordinance, however, residential construction cannot be exempted.  If the County gets its way, new homeowners will likely bear the brunt of the impact fees, which will make homes even less affordable in Bryan County. Such unequal treatment is unconstitutional and violates the terms of the Georgia Development Impact Fee Act.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Savannah works to promote, protect and preserve home ownership in the greater Savannah area, including Bryan County, Georgia.  The HBA is dedicated to promoting home ownership for all citizens in Bryan County and we strenuously oppose any zoning codes or other regulations that diminish housing availability or affordability for moderate income homebuyers.   For all of these reasons, the Home Builders Association has filed a lawsuit against Bryan County to prevent the government from overstepping its limited authority, to protect the rights of property owners, and to keep housing affordable for all Bryan County citizens.


More on this story to come.

 Related story:

County moves forward on impact fees

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