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Polk County Developments

Lake Wales to implement impact fee focused on pedestrian improvements

Starting in November, developers in Lake Wales will pay a mobility fee for new construction on top of the fees already charged by Polk County.

The Multimodal Transportation Impact fee will pay for more than just road improvements a traditional transportation fee covers, but also pedestrian improvements such as trails and sidewalks.

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“We consider this impact fee to be different from the county and what other cities charge,” Mark Bennett, Lake Wales director of development services, told GrowthSpotter. The fee is focused on other forms of transportation in addition to cars – pedestrian – walking, bicycling, Segway, and even golf carts, he said. “We are creating a trail from Lake Wales Lake westward to downtown,” for example.

Approved in August by the Lakes Wales City Commission, the mobility fee is part of the city’s long-range multimodal plan, in conjunction with Lake Wales Connected’s Downtown Redevelopment Plan. The city hasn’t had its own transportation impact fees until now. The fees are comparable to the county in pricing. Polk County charges developers a $2,380 transportation fee per single-family detached home; Lake Wales multimodal transportation fee for the same single-family home is $2,055.33. Multi-family 2-3 stories per dwelling is $1,564 in the county and will be $1,469.03 in Lake Wales.

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Impact fees pay for new roads, turn signals, lanes, added fire protection, schools and more that become necessary due to new development. Polk County’s total impact fee including EMS, library, corrections, etc. per new single-family home developed is $11,625 – much less than surrounding counties. Builders pay the fees, which are often passed on to property purchasers.

“The idea is to address all types of transportation not just cars,” Bennett said of Lake Wales’s fee. “Just new growth. We got a lot of it coming in, so we wanted to put that in place.”

The city’s population is expected to increase to 59,096 by 2045 from 36,376 in 2015. In the meantime, Polk County is expected to see the number of people increase to 348,903 from 195,255 in the same time frame.

The new mobility fee also will be used “as one of our funding sources to implement Lake Wales Connected,” Bennett said.

The Downtown Redevelopment Plan includes converting existing one-way streets to two-way traffic so that drivers don’t just skip through town, murals in different locations, streetscape projects with tree plantings, new lighting, angled parking, narrowing travel lanes, lighting and landscaping to emphasize the small-town charm. Lake Wales Connected – adopted by Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency in 2019 – is a strategy for revitalization of the city’s historic Downtown and one of its close-in neighborhoods, Northwest Redevelopment Area, receiving a public involvement award from the American Planning Association.

“It was nice to receive an award from our other planners around here for doing good planning,” Bennett said.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at newsroom@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


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