By Megan Wehring
DRIPPING SPRINGS — Population growth caused Dripping Springs to shift its focus to the city parks. City Council unanimously approved a proposed parkland dedication ordinance on Tuesday to update regulations, improve parkland quality and implement fees.
The amount of the fee-in-lieu will be based on an appraisal. Staff originally proposed a park development fee of $983 per dwelling unit being submitted to the city by developers on new lots, based on the 2019 census that showed 3.03 people per household. City council only approved a fee of $648 per dwelling unit.
Mayor Pro Tem Taline Manassian questioned what the park development fee would cover. Brent Luck, parks planning consultant for Luck Design Team, said the fee would contribute to a variety of development options.
“Both Founders and the sports park have tremendous pressure right now from active use sports,” Luck said. “With more development pressures coming into the city, the use of those parks and the amenities are going to continue to grow. … The money from the park development fee can also go toward trails or trail connectivity.”
The main goal of the park development fee is for new infrastructure in the future like trails or sports fields, Luck explained.
Council member Todd Purcell expressed his concern for adding on more fees on future lots that residents will be required to pay when purchasing land or residence.
“Now we are tacking on a whole other new fee on top of the existing fee,” Purcell said. “Our drive to accommodate some of our teachers and local folks that want to stay here in this town, we are driving them out. They can’t stay. They are not going to be able to afford a home.”
Council member April Harris Allison said there are other places that sports teams can use rather than prioritizing a park dedication.
“I do think it’s important to maintain what we do have,” Allison said. “But I know from experience when there is no place dedicated for active sports, they rent or lease out space at the elementary school or at the church. There are other alternatives.”
Purcell, along with the rest of council, agreed that a $648 fee is more reasonable at this time.
“This is a way to collect fees on those newcomers that are going to utilize our parks,” Purcell said. “As we grow as a community and the need rises, maybe we up it. But right now, I don’t see why we need to be higher than everybody else.”
Developers will be required to pay the Park Development fees. The fees shall be paid at or prior to the final plat or site plan approval, whichever is most applicable to the project.