Native Grill and Wings remains on track to open a 240-seat restaurant in Payson, despite a flurry of concern about the town’s water impact fees.
“As of last week everything was at the counter (at community development) ready for them to pick up,” said LaRon Garrett, assistant town manager, after the town determined that they did not need to pay an additional $65,000 water impact fee.
Robert and Jacquie Marshall wanted to open a Native Grill and Wings, formerly known as Native New Yorker, a bar and restaurant in the space formerly occupied by several other dining establishments — including a Chinese buffet and a Country Kitchen. They did not did not return calls seeking comment.
The Marshalls planned to add about 80 seats by converting a meeting room and adding outdoor seating.
Initially, the town said that would mean paying an additional $65,000 water impact fee for the additional seats.
The rumor that Native had dropped its plans to build a restaurant here because of the additional impact fee flew quickly around town as the town and the owners continued to negotiate.
Garrett said town officials told the Marshalls that the town could base the impact fees on actual water use at another restaurant in the chain with the same number of seats. The restaurant supplied those figures from other restaurants, which demonstrated a much lower per-seat usage than the town’s formula suggested.
“They gave us information on multiple locations ... so the numbers went below what had already been paid for. So at this point, there’s no impact fee.”
The town’s impact fees will drop in August, due to a revision required by the state Legislature. The water impact fee will drop from $7,500 per house to about $6,400 per house. The town will drop separate impact fees for parks and for public safety that amounted to about $2,500 per house, due to the far more complicated accounting rules required by the state.
Payson is working to find ways to finance the final $28 million it needs to build the Blue Ridge pipeline from Washington Park to Payson.
Originally, the town hoped to finance the bulk of the pipeline with water impact fees, but the collapse of the housing market dried up the fees.
The town has spent the bulk of the accumulated impact fees and a $10 million federal loan/grant. Now it needs to decide on whether to use a state water infrastructure loan or hold out for a hoped-for longer-term federal water infrastructure loan that could include outright grants. The town has been waiting to find out whether Congress will fund the existing federal program.
The Native restaurant won’t have to pay any impact fees up front.
The town will evaluate actual water use in three years to see if the figures match the estimates. New businesses that do have to pay impact fees have the option of paying nothing for the first three years — and then spreading the total amount over the next seven years.
The town’s impact fee structure has become something of an issue in what’s shaping up to be a vigorous election season, with Payson Mayor Kenny Evans and the three council members running for re-election all facing challengers.
The quick leak of the information on the initial estimate of a $65,000 impact fee for Native Grill fed into that debate, swirling through town almost before the initial meeting on the topic between the town and the restaurant concluded.
The Marshall’s would like to thank town officials and the community for the support received.
“As first time business owners it was rewarding working with individuals that understood the problem at hand, and willing to discuss workable solutions. The final outcome was acceptable for all involved.”