Crown Point City Hall stock

Crown Point City Hall

John J. Watkins, The Times

CROWN POINT — The City Council on Monday voted to defer its decision on adopting a park impact fee.

The Plan Commission in October narrowly adopted a favorable recommendation to the City Council for the fee.

Under state law, impact fees are collected from residential developers and mandated to be applied to maintaining recreation infrastructure based on standards of the community. The fees are derived for new construction and only can be used on new facilities.

Crown Point parks administrator Jennie Burgess said they are becoming an industry standard.

The city used Lehman & Lehman, of Mishawaka, for the study of a recreation infrastructure zone improvement plan. After analysis, the city's Park Infrastructure Advisory Committee and city staff reported that a recreation impact fee of $1,159 per new residence constructed is a responsible measure.

Municipalities in the Region that collect revenue from impact fees include Valparaiso ($1,288), Chesterton ($889) and St. John ($1,736).

Council President Laura Sauerman, who is on the Plan Commission and voted against the recommendation, said the impact fee thing "always feels like a Ponzi scheme to me."

"You have to have something new," she said. "If you spend money it's always got to be something new. I want to be able to maintain what we have." 

She addressed comments from Lehman & Lehman that municipalities that have adopted the fee are those which people want to live in. 

"Guess what folks, Crown Point is already a community that people want to live in," she said. 

Andrew Kyres said he supports the Plan Commission's decision and thinks there are more pluses than minuses to the fee. 

The vote to defer the decision on the fee passed 6-1 with Councilman Scott Evorik voting against the deferral. 

The matter will return to the council at its meeting Dec. 4.  

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Lake County reporter

Rob covers urban affairs and other matters in Crown Point, St. John, Winfield and beyond. Previously he covered Valparaiso, Hammond, Gary and East Chicago. He's also written for various magazines and pens a culture blog for The Times.