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Temporary Waiver of Impact Fees Plus Community Input Help Bolster Bonney Lake Business Recruitment Efforts

A recent survey conducted by the city of Bonney Lake found that residents most desired a Trader Joe's in town.

With the Bonney Lake City Council's approval Tuesday night of an ordinance temporarily waiving traffic impact fees (TIF) for new businesses that follow certain criteria toward "prioritized economic development," it begged the question who, if anyone, the city might be pursuing as part of this plan.

The city is actively recruiting, confirmed Community Development Director John Vodopich, but he stopped short of identifying specific businesses. Vodopich did, however, share with Patch the results of the city's survey last month asking residents what businesses they'd like to see come to Bonney Lake.

Not surprisingly, given some of the comments we've also seen on Patch, people want a Trader Joe's here. The survey found that 584 respondents chose Trader Joe's among their desired businesses 404 times. Costco came in second with 360 votes and Red Robin got third with 217 votes. (Voters were able to select more than one business or list their own.)

The good news is that all three don't immediately fall under the 'ineligible businesses' category of the TIF reduction incentive, which excludes:

...fast food restaurants, sandwich, teriyaki and other related eating establishments in which orders are normally placed at a counter or drive-through window; coffee stands; beauty, nail, or hair salons; adult entertainment establishments; kennels; salvage yards; antique shops; convenience stores; gas stations; bars and taverns; thrift shops; self storage units; second hand or antique stores.

Among the criteria as set forth for qualifying businesses, the city is:

  • Prioritizing development in the downtown, Eastown and Midtown zones
  • Open to businesses that can show they can generate at least $15,000 in sales tax revenue per year over a three-year period
  • Requiring that sit-down restaurants employ at least 18 or more full-time employees and can generate at least $20,000 in sales tax revenue per year, again over a three-year period.

Vodopich confirmed the Courier-Herald's report that a $500,000 account set up to reimburse the lost TIF funds would be coming from money originally set aside to pay for a YMCA. That amount is part of $1 million designated in the 2012 city budget for a YMCA or similar community recreation center, he said.

This waiving of TIFs was one of two initiatives the Council took on Tuesday to help spur business development in the city. It also approved reducing sewer and water system development charges by 30 percent.

Both are intended to be valid for the next year only, or earlier in the event that allocated funds (regarding TIF) run out ahead of time or if Council votes to close it.

This is all on top of a 25 percent TIF reduction that currently applies to homebuilders, which expires in August 2014.

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