Impact fees are levied by local governments before someone can build.
George Sheetz was charged more than $20,000 before he could build on his property.
The homeowner sued the county over the fees.
The US Supreme Court has now heard arguments in the case.
(NewsReady.com) – When homeowners want to build on their property, their county often charges them a wide array of fees, including impact fees. Those are assessments that local governments charge to pay for infrastructure improvements. A California man has sued his county over a five-figure fee he was ordered to pay. The US Supreme Court has now heard the case.
“Go Someplace Else”
George Sheetz, 65, purchased a vacant lot in El Dorado County, California. He paid for his land in full over three years and made plans to develop the lot. Sheetz worked in construction for 50 years, starting as a laborer and eventually moving on to run his own engineering contracting company.
After the retiree paid off his property, Sheetz made plans to develop it. He’d built a number of homes during his lifetime, but this time, he just wanted to place an 1,800-square-foot manufactured home on the property. He thought putting a prefabricated home on the property would mean less red tape than a home built from the foundation up.
When Sheetz applied for a permit, the county told him he would have to pay a $23,420 impact fee first. He said the fee was specifically for “traffic impact mitigation.”
Sheetz told Fox News that he started getting angry when he learned of the fee. Worse, he said one county official told him that he didn’t have to build there, “Go someplace else,” the official reportedly remarked. He paid the fee in 2016, but then he sued.
Sheetz v. County of El Dorado
Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian law firm, took on Sheetz’s case. The attorneys for the firm argue the government extorted the homeowner with the fee. They argue the Supreme Court has already set a precedent in the Nollan v. California Coastal Commission case that the government can’t abuse the permitting process by forcing conditions on homeowners that have no “essential nexus,” or connection between the public need and Sheetz’s use. The homeowner argues there is no connection between the fee and how much traffic he will cause in the area.
Sheetz lost in two lower courts and appealed to the Supreme Court. The justices agreed to take the case and heard arguments on January 9. If he wins, it could lead to a massive change across the country.
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