Creating a positive environment for development is crucial to the economic future of all communities.
Equally important is the building and expanding of infrastructure needs — chief among them quality roads — to keep pace with business and residential building and growth.
St. John, Indiana's fastest growing town, is wise to realize this and consider a new possible construction fee system that could help municipal roads keep pace with expanding construction.
The town is eyeing a practice already used in four other Indiana municipalities to collect road impact fees to provide future infrastructure to serve new development.
The fees would be assessed on every building permit issued, including for residential and commercial construction.
We realize this can appear like a slippery slope.
A municipality doesn't want to charge fees so high that developers look elsewhere to build.
However, potential flat-rate maximum fees of $5,443 for single-family home construction, $5,279 for industrial development and commercial development and up to $20,000 for commercial development, depending on square footage, don't seem exorbitant when viewed as a percentage of an overall building project's costs.
Town leaders should give careful consideration to balancing a fee amount that could enhance its ability to keep pace with changing road needs. Quality roads, in and of themselves, are important to attracting development of all varieties.
And it seems fair for those developments, responsible for current and future impacts on local roadways, to be part of the funding solution. Nothing is free, and quality isn’t cheap.
The affluent Indiana communities of Fishers, Zionsville, Westfield and Noblesville all have adopted road impact fees. St. John should learn all it can from those municipalities.
It's worth a serious look.