Residential propety

Commissioners press ‘pause’ residential development with month-long moratorium

Gaines, who has previously expressed interest in increasing business revenue opportunities, took the initiative to explain the resolution during the council business session.

The moratorium decision follows months of current Dawson County residents attending public meetings and voicing concerns that the proposed subdivisions would negatively impact existing transportation infrastructure and emergency services.

During the May 5 BOC voting session, Dawson County Development Authority Chairman Brian Trapnell pointed out that residential, rather than commercial, use is driving tax collections local land.

During the July 7 business session, Gaines explained that a moratorium will allow council to review zoning regulations and impact fees to see if these are adequate or need to be changed to take into account the future growth and development.

As previously reported in DCN, impact fees are charged to incoming developments to help offset the county’s costs to service new areas.

During the meeting, Gaines stressed that his main motivation for supporting a moratorium is an anticipated recession.

The BOC last enacted a moratorium at the end of 2019 to change the rezoning process and also put one in place during the last impact fee study, Gaines added.

In a follow-up call with DCN, Gaines explained that the county relies on sales tax revenue to pay for its services in areas, including past new subdivisions, and that less revenue could mean a heavier burden on property taxes. While local tax revenue this year looks similar to the face value of last year’s eight or nine percent monthly increases, he believes the rise is more related to inflation.

“With the uncertainty of what our revenues will look like in the future, it would be appropriate for us to pause on additional new construction of residential developments in Dawson County until we have the capacity to ‘consider impact fees,’ Gaines said on July 7.

Previously, District 3 commissioner candidate Deanna Dickinson expressed support for a moratorium of at least 60 to 90 days on the development.

Dickinson said in a phone call with DCN that she was “pleased the commissioners are listening to their constituents” and added that it would be important for the council to “keep listening”, given the strain on resources like emergency services during continued population growth.

To that end, Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services has secured two much-anticipated new ambulances that are expected to go into service next week.

“None of us can predict the future, but we need to be able to plan to the best of our abilities,” said Emory Dooley, District 4 Commissioner and Vice Chairman of the BOC. “It will give us some breathing room to do that…to adjust our zoning regulations and impact fees to ensure we are able to fund our future growth without placing a greater tax burden on our community.”