Juergensmeyer: Can Development Impact Fees Help Mitigate Urban Sprawl?

Julian Juergensmeyer, Ben F. Johnson Chair in Law, co-wrote an article, “Can Development Impact Fees Help Mitigate Urban Sprawl,” in the Journal of the American Planning Association with Gregory S. Burge, Trey L. Trosper, Arthur C. Nelson and James C. Nicholas.

The article addresses the common problems associated with inner-city living such as traffic congestion, poor health, degraded air and water quality, disparities in education and presents a solution by way of development impact fees. It investigates the effectiveness of impact fees in Albuquerque, N.M., for a 21-year period.

After a brief review of impact fee theory, Juergensmeyer and his colleagues note that their theory involves a zone-based impact fee program. This program sets itself apart from the current related literature because it “establishes a direct link to urban density” by examining  Albuquerque’s three-tier impact fee program formulated  in the early 2000s  by Juergensmeyer and two of his co-authors, Nicholas and Nelson, to encourage new construction in fully served areas (areas that had all the infrastructure needed to support new development). 

“We explored how our Albuquerque impact fee program influenced development patterns in centrally located areas, relative to the current urban fringe,” Juergensmeyer says.

Juergensmeyer and his colleagues completed a complicated study, the inner-workings of which are detailed in the article to determine whether the program actually mitigated  urban sprawl.

The authors conclude that their study “demonstrates that development impact fee programs of the type used in Albuquerque are viable tools for infrastructure finance  that also may  represent a preferable alternative to growth boundaries in the  fight  against urban sprawl.”

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