Unpredictability about the cost of future impact fees has left a cloud of uncertainty over the nearly 1,100-home San Juan Oaks development.
San Benito County planning commissioners Wednesday will consider locking in the current impact fees for the San Juan Oaks development until 2029 in exchange for a sooner payment of a $6 million “public benefit fee.” Representatives from San Juan Oaks have pointed to uncertainty over future impact fees as a reason why development partners have backed out of participation in the deal.
San Juan Oaks is now proposing to extend the period – for those fees to be locked in at 2014 impact fee rates – from March 2023 to March 2029. In exchange, the county would receive a planned $5.6 million benefit fee along with a $500,000 “enhancement,” equating to a total of $6 million available in the general fund if the amendment goes through. The agenda documents note how the benefit fee would be due when the first building permit is pulled or by March 2021.
That amendment ultimately signals the developer wants to delay buildout of the development, set to include up to 1,084 active adult and market rate residential units, a 200-room hotel, a four-acre assisted living/skilled nursing/memory care facility, up to 65,000 square feet of neighborhood commercial uses and up to 25,000 square feet of amenity space. It also would include seven acres of private neighborhood parks to serve the project’s residents, 114 acres of common area open space, 41 acres of on-site agricultural preserve and 1,243 acres of on-site permanent wildlife habitat.
The San Benito County Planning Commission is set to meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the San Benito County Administration Building, 481 Fourth St., to consider the amendment and another matter related to Swank Farms located on Pacheco Pass Highway.
According to the agenda explanation on the matter, development impact fees are the charges assigned to each building permit for commercial and residential construction and are used to pay for traffic issues, drainage, road equipment, fire protection, general capital improvements, law enforcement, habitat conservation and more.
The agenda explains that December 2015 is the effective date of the original Development Agreement, and developers are looking to lock in 2014 impact fees for another 10 years to add certainty to the project’s overall cost.
The agenda mentions how Scott Fuller, who is overseeing the project for San Juan Oaks, expressed doubt that a development partner like the previously attached Del Webb or Century Communities may never get on board without locked-in fees.
“This is the main reason for the amendment request to the Development Agreement–to lock in the 2014 Impact Fee rates for potential builders, so that they have a known fixed permitting expense for each house or commercial development that will not be increased,” according to the agenda. “Mr. Fuller states, that without such a concession, a builder or a developer may never be retained to construct the San Juan Oaks Specific Plan Community, as the project has had a demonstrated difficulty moving forward since it was approved.”
In another matter, the planning commission will consider allowing Swank Farms to use its currently temporary location at 4751 Pacheco Pass Highway as a permanent site for events and other attractions.
According to the agenda:
“The applicants propose to establish a permanent, year-round agri-tourism operation on the same property that has hosted the annual Swank Farms’ Corn Maze & Fall Festival under 2017 and 2018 temporary use permits. The proposed agricultural-support use would allow the applicants to host farm-to-table dinners, produce locally-grown value-added products on-site, and create seasonal attractions similar to the fall corn maze/fall festival.”