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New park fees in Afton

Fees could once again be the sole mechanism for parkland development in Afton.

Afton Planning Commission discussed possible changes to the city's park dedication fee ordinance during its Feb. 6 meeting.

The topic of the park dedication fee arose last month after a resident, who was applying for a simple subdivision, was notified that both parcels needed to pay the required park dedication fee.

However, there was some debate on whether or not that was necessary, which is why Afton Planning Commission decided to look at the issue.

Afton's park dedication ordinance states that all new developments, or subdivisions, must either pay a flat fee or donate 10 percent of the land for public use. For residential properties the fee is $3,806; commercial properties is $1,506; industrial properties is $1,505 and previously created lots is $500.

The fees are added to the city's parks fund and can be used for capital improvements associated with the city's parks or the funds can be used for land acquisition. However, the fund cannot be used for routine maintenance of the parks.

After reading through the ordinance, Afton Planning Commission members determined that two park dedication fees are required when a subdivision occurs.

"You're adding people and this is really the only way we can support our parks," Planning Commission chairwoman Barb Ronningen said.

Over recent months the Afton Parks Committee has discussed the possibility of veering away from the land donation requirement and focusing strictly on the monetary contribution.

"We have these bits and pieces and odds and ends of land that are difficult to find a use for," commissioner Sally Doherty said. "We might want to find something more deliberate to do with the money."

Previously, Afton's park dedication ordinance required a fee of 10 percent of the assessed pre-development property value.

Several Planning Commission members suggested reverting back to the previous 10 percent formula as it would reflect the changing land values.

Planning Commission ultimately decided to recommend that Afton City Council direct it to draft language amending the park dedication ordinance back to its

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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