Nipomo church will have to pay road fee, supervisors say

The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday refused to ditch a road improvement fee for a Nipomo church whose planned expansion will create more traffic, but supervisors left open the possibility that the fee could go down should the church scale back some of its plans.

The Department of Public Works levied the road improvement fee of $96,892 on the City Church of the Central Coast.

The congregation, currently in temporary quarters on Frontage Road, had said it intends to build a 28,907-square-foot, two-story church with an atrium, multipurpose rooms, day care, nursery, stage and outdoor playground. It will be at 135 Cimarron Way near Thompson Avenue and the Highway 101 interchange.

The county calculated its fee using a formula that included those proposals.

However, on Tuesday, the Rev. Fred Kropp said the day care is no longer in the works.

Supervisors said the project will without question generate traffic, but Kropp’s statements about the day care could lower the amount, they said. They told the church and Public Works to come up with new numbers together, if appropriate.

In asking that the fee be lowered or waived, Kropp also noted that the church is a nonprofit and “has been serving the county for 12 years with free public events and help for basic needs for families.”

Two parishioners testified to the good work the church performs in the community.

Supervisor Adam Hill said “there’s no doubt” about the church’s beneficence. However, he noted that there is a traffic impact from its expansion.

Under its codes, the county imposes fees on new developments in particular areas in order to defray the costs of road improvements, traffic signals, turn lanes and the like that the project will create.

Being a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization is not a valid reason under the ordinance to waive a fee, according to officials.

“The county has applied fees on the nonprofit entities since the inception of the program,” Dave Flynn, deputy director of Public Works, and Mark Davis of development services wrote in a report to the supervisors.

The Public Works staff wrote that since 1991 there have been 32 road improvement fee appeals in the two South County road regions in question. The supervisors have adjusted or waived 10, resulting in a loss to the county of $159,000.

Twenty-five of the 32 appeals have been on residences, but there also have been two church appeals, four commercial and one industrial.

The four commercial interests that have appealed have fared well with the board, securing three adjustments and one waiver for a total loss to the county of $100,000.

Of the 25 residential appeals, 22 were denied.

Two South County churches have appealed the road impact fees, with one having it waived and the other adjusted. Countywide, four churches have appealed the fees. The other two were in Templeton, and both were denied.

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