HEATH — Following the institution of impact fees for water, sewer, and roadway considerations in the City of Heath which were passed in April, local builders have approached the city council with a request for a reduction in those fees, stating that their assessment is hurting the construction market in the southern Rockwall County community.

Jim Benson spoke to the council at the last regular meeting, and specifically addressed the issue of impact fees on a larger one-inch water line (most of the city is currently using a 5/8-inch line), and a break-point in requirements in the building code that begin at 6,000 square feet. Benson produced a sampling of demographics relating to homes that he has built in the area, and took the position that residents in the larger homes would not be using any more water than families that live in Heath’s smaller homes. In fact, he stated that the average occupancy of larger homes is actually lower, and therefore expected water use should be lower as well.

A building code requirement that calls for a fire-sprinkler system in homes that exceed 6,000 square feet necessitates that the home be equipped with a one-inch water line.

Heath developer Rob Whittle reported that he has had homes cut off at just less than the 6,000 square foot mark specifically to avoid the added expense.

Currently, the impact fees for a one-inch water line include a $9,700 assessment for water, a $5,200 charge for sewer, and $2,500 for roadway impact. The total of which comes out to $17,400 in impact fees. The total of fees for a home with a 5/8-inch water line come out to $8,500.

The builders are seeking to have a $4,200 reduction in water, and a $1,200 reduction in sewer. Which would bring the total fees for a one-inch line down to $12,000. The roadway assessment would remain unchanged.

Before the adoption of the current fee schedule by the Heath City Council on April 6, the total of fees for homes built with a one-inch line came to $9,000.

Several of the builders present referred to their trade (custom home building) as the prominent business in Heath. Referring to a comparison of impact fees charged in other areas, they contend that the city is risking its position as the premiere community to build in.

“Heath has kind of had the luxury market tied up in its area,” said Benson. “That’s not the case anymore. We’re here to suggest that everybody use some logic and common sense about where we’re headed with all of this. We’re no longer the only game in town.”

Benson specifically referred to recent developments in McLendon-Chisolm, where he contends that buyers can get into the same school district, with equal amenities, at a much lower cost for building.

The City of Heath will hold at least one more public hearing on the matter before any action will be taken on the issue.