[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of New Castle 5-12-2020 by L.L. No. 6-2020. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Town of New Castle routinely engages professional consultants and legal counsel to ensure the timely and thorough review of various land use and development applications and appeals, including but not limited to those seeking subdivision approval, site plan approval, special permits and environmental permits. This chapter establishes the authority of the Town Board to impose and collect such professional consulting and legal fees as may be reasonable and necessary for the Town to ably discharge its regulatory and environmental duties under applicable law in the review of such applications and appeals.
The Town Board, the Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals, Architectural Review Board, Environmental Review Board and Building Inspector may each retain the services of such planner, engineer, environmental expert, attorney or other professional consultant as they deem necessary to ensure the timely and thorough review of any application or appeal that comes before them. In such instances, the applicant shall reimburse the Town for all reasonable and necessary fees and expenses incurred by the Town for such services, in addition to any other fee that may be payable in connection with such matters.
All charges for consulting services shall be audited by the Director of Planner, the Building Inspector and/or the Town Engineer. Reimbursable applicant costs shall be limited to those that are reasonable in amount and are necessary for the Town's review and action on the application in accordance with the law.
Fees charged by such consultants shall be deemed reasonable when in accord with fees usually charged for such services in the metropolitan New York region and pursuant to a contractual agreement between the Town and such consultant.
Such consulting charges shall be deemed necessarily incurred when the underlying services were performed to protect or promote the health, safety or other interests of the residents of the Town, including without limitation services to assure the timely and thorough review of potential adverse environmental impacts; to protect neighboring properties from excessive surface water runoff, nuisance or other harmful impact; to assure the proper and timely construction of roads, drainage facilities, utilities, sidewalks and public spaces; to protect the legal interests of the Town, including receipt by the Town of good and proper title to dedicated roads and other facilities and the avoidance of claims and liability; and to protect such other interests as the Town may deem relevant based upon any of the features, conditions or considerations associated with the application or appeal under review.
All such fees shall be paid by the Town upon submission of a Town voucher, and the applicant shall reimburse the Town for the costs of such consultant upon submission of a copy of the voucher or at the discretion of the reviewing board, in accordance with § 96-3 of this chapter.
Proof of payment of all professional consultant review fees shall be obtained by the applicant from the clerk of the board having jurisdiction over the application and presented to the reviewing board having jurisdiction over the application. No building permit or certificate of occupancy shall be issued nor shall any use or work be authorized under any resolution of approval unless all professional review fees charged in connection with the applicant's project have been reimbursed to the Town.
In the event that an application is required to be reviewed by more than one reviewing board, then in such event and to the extent applicable, each such reviewing board shall use the same consultant who shall in such case prepare one report providing the data, information and recommendations requested. In all instances, duplication of consultant's reports shall be avoided wherever possible in order to minimize the cost of such consultant's reports to the applicant.
The reviewing board, the Director of Planning, the Building Inspector or the Town Engineer may require the establishment of an escrow account, from which withdrawals shall be made to reimburse the Town for the cost of professional consultant review fees and professional staff services, including but not limited to planning, engineering, environmental and legal expenses actually incurred by the Town. All costs charged to the applicant shall be those reasonable and necessary to the decision-making function of the reviewing board as set defined in § 96-2B. The applicant shall then provide funds to the Town for deposit into such account in an amount to be determined by the reviewing board, the Director of Planning, the Building Inspector or the Town Engineer based on an evaluation of the nature and complexity of the application. Such a deposit in escrow may be required at any stage in the application process, including but not limited to pre-application discussions with the applicant. The applicant shall be provided with copies of any Town voucher for consultant fees as they are submitted to the Town and with Town staff time records for services for which reimbursement is sought. When the balance in such escrow account is reduced to 1/3 of its initial amount, the applicant shall deposit additional funds into such account to bring its balance up to the amount of the initial deposit. If such account is not replenished within 30 days after the applicant is notified, in writing, of the requirement for such additional deposit, the reviewing board may suspend its review of the application. A building permit or certificate of occupancy or use shall not be issued unless all such applicant costs have been reimbursed to the Town. After all pertinent costs have been paid, the Town shall refund to the applicant any funds remaining on deposit.
All fees required pursuant to this chapter shall be collected by the clerk of the board having jurisdiction over the application.
Any fee imposed pursuant to this chapter that remains unpaid shall become a lien against the real property for which the application was filed if not paid within 30 days of written demand. Such unreimbursed fees, including, but not limited to, application fees and professional review fees, shall thereupon be levied against the said premises in the same manner as a tax on real property, in addition to all other taxes, fees, rents or charges that would otherwise be so levied. In the event an application is filed in connection with more than one tax lot, then the Town Receiver of Taxes shall distribute such levy equally among each such tax lot without regard to assessed value or any other factor.