March 22 02:23 AM

Tap-in fees dip

Village makes adjustment to help boost construction of new homes

August 12, 2009
ALMONT — In an effort to encourage new residential construction, village council members agreed last Tuesday to substantially reduce sewer and water tap-in fees for a local developer.

Scott Stroup of Stroup Builders LLC, said he wants to build several moderately-priced homes in the existing but dormant Drakeshire Farms subdivision, located on the east side of Kidder Road, north of Hough Road.

The subdivision, which can accommodate about 100 lots, already has finished streets, street lighting and access to water and sewers. At present, only one home has been built at the site, originally begun by Fritz Builders. The subdivision is now the property of Tri-County Bank.

Stroup said he believes there is a market for new 1,200-1,500-square-foot homes, ranging in price from $140,000-$160,000. To expedite construction, he requested the tap-in fee concessions.

"There are a lot of people who would like to come out here from the city and wanting to buy something brand-new with manageable payments," said Stroup. "Not everyone feels comfortable about going into a foreclosed property. There can be some uncomfortable feelings associated with that."

After considerable discussion, the council decided to lower the fees for Stroup and the Drakeshire subdivision from $4,350 per tap-in to about $1,100 per tap-in.

Village Manager Gerald Oakes said the council's decision reflects its desire to encourage new home construction.

"The objective of this decision is to help kick start some residential development in the village," said Oakes. "It's like a stimulus package.

"It might work or it might not," he admitted, "but it's a pretty generous gesture on the part of the council."

Oakes said the reduced tap-in fees are specific to the Drakeshire Farms subdivision, but other residential developers could receive the same reduction.

"The experience I've had with the village council is that they are open-minded and willing to look at alternatives," Stroup noted. "They are always willing to work with you."

Stroup said he plans to start building two homes in the subdivision before fall; the first construction to begin in a matter of weeks.

"The first one going up will be a ranch-style with three bedrooms, a basement, a two-car garage and an open floor plan," said Stroup. "We hope to start on that one in two weeks. The second house will be a two-story, with construction to start in the fall."

Oakes said Stroup will be allowed to build five new homes at the 75-percent reduced tap-in rate. The next five homes will be subject to a 50-percent reduction.

Future tap-in fee arrangements between the village and developer will be subject to negotiation, said Oakes.

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