When they met Wednesday, Leavenworth County commissioners waived a traffic impact fee for a special use permit and discussed changing policy concerning how TIF fees will be applied to special use permits in the future.

When they met Wednesday, Leavenworth County commissioners waived a traffic impact fee for a special use permit and discussed changing policy concerning how TIF fees will be applied to special use permits in the future.

The discussion came as commissioners considered a special use permit for the operation of a child care facility, LIFE Learning Academy, at 22552 Honey Creek Road near Tonganoxie.

The applicant, Gretchen Meitler, previously was approved a special use permit for LIFE Preschool, which is operated on a neighboring property at 16979 Chieftain Road.

She plans to operate both facilities. Children attending the new LIFE Learning Academy will be dropped off at the existing LIFE Preschool. Children then will be transported to the new facility by vans or they will walk there using a path.

Meitler objected to being charged a traffic impact fee for the new SUP. She argued the fee should not apply to the SUP under county policy for TIFs.

Meitler previously was charged a TIF for the SUP for the existing child care center. She paid this under protest.

“It’s a standard fee,” said Jeff Joseph, director of the Leavenworth County Planning and Zoning Department.

He said the fee is collected for all SUPs approved by the County Commission because of increases in traffic on roadways.

He said the traffic impact fee for a SUP is based on the anticipated number of trips to a location per day. He said this is calculated using information provided by the applicant.

The proposed TIF for the special use permit for LIFE Learning Academy was $589.

The existing LIFE Preschool is located on a federal highway.

County Administrator Mark Loughry said the traffic impact fee is not necessary intended for the road in front a business. He said the TIF is intended for roads in the township in which a business is located.

He said people visiting a business on a highway likely are using county roads to get to the highway.

Loughry suggested commissioners could look at changing policy by setting a traffic threshold for traffic impact fees for special use permits. He said this would exempt small businesses from the fee if they do not exceed the threshold.

Loughry said this issue will be discussed during a future work session of the County Commission.

“I think we need to determine the threshold before we waive a fee,” Commissioner Vicky Kaaz said.

Senior County Counselor David Van Parys said he did not think commissioners would be setting a precedent by waiving the TIF for the LIFE Learning Academy because of factors that are unique to the case.

Commissioner Jeff Culbertson said waiving the fee would be going against the recommendation of planning and zoning staff. He said staff members adjusted the fee accordingly.

He said waiving the fee would open the door to people who will ask for the same thing.

Commissioners approved a resolution to issue the special use permit with a waiver of the TIF. The vote was 3-2 with Culbertson and Kaaz voting against the motion.

After the vote, Kaaz said she was supporting staff members who made a recommendation based on policy.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR