City considers raising development fees to encourage online building applications

With the majority of Fort Worth developers submitting building applications on paper, the Fort Worth City Council is considering a fee for paper applications in an effort to get more developers to submit their plans online.

“We’re taking out the handling of the paper as much as possible,” Planning and Development Director Randle Harwood said.

The city council is expected to vote on the fee increases Tuesday. If approved, the changes will go into effect Oct. 1.

The city began taking online applications for permits, zoning and platting last year, Harwood said. So far, about 15 percent of developers have opted to take the digital route – not bad for the first year, Harwood said, but the city wants that number to grow.

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To discourage paper submissions, the city plans to charge $25 for building permit applications, $50 for zoning applications and $50 for platting applications. All applications will be charged $5 to help pay for technology upgrades for the planning and development department.

The fee changes will bring in approximately $536,692 more revenue to the city, which will help pay for technology, additional staffing and operating costs, Harwood said.

The fee increases come as the city faces dramatic growth in development over the past six years. According to city data, 9,974 building permits were issued in fiscal year 2010. In fiscal year 2015, that number jumped to 11,272, with the city projecting to issue 12,026 permits by the end of fiscal year 2016. Plats and right-of-way applications are rising, too, jumping from 297 in fiscal year 2010 to 507 in fiscal year 2015, with 582 applications projected for fiscal year 2016.

“Our intent is to try to have growth pay for growth,” Harwood said. “The things that we do are services primarily to developers or individuals that allow them to have safe buildings and safe infrastructure that goes with that.”

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Look for a more detailed report after the city council votes on Tuesday.