Creating linkage fees for larger developments in Chelsea would help streamline and create greater transparency in mitigating the impacts of those developments, according to City Council President Roy Avellaneda.
The council is scheduling a public hearing on the home rule petition introduced by Avellaneda that would create linkage fees for any commercial, industrial, or mixed-used development, and any residential developments of 24 or more units.
Those fees would then go into a separate fund, and the City Council would then be able to decide how the funds could best be used for the neighborhoods impacted and the city.
“This is something I have been working on for nearly a year now,” said Avellaneda.
He said he initially tried to address the development mitigation process during the review of the city’s charter in 2020, suggesting that the City Council have a say when it comes to mitigation proposals from developers. However, Avellaneda said he was told that addressing the issue was not possible through the charter.
Currently, the City Manager is responsible for making any type of mitigation deals regarding development.
“We had a meeting last fall, and the City Manager, in order to assist my concerns, said there is a method that other communities do called linkage fees,” said Avellaneda.
With linkage fees, the city charges a set rate based on the size of the project, and then the City Council decides how to use that money to help mitigate the impact of the project. Avellaneda said that money can be put toward a wide array of initiatives, such as social programs, capital improvement projects, workforce development and job training, traffic improvements, youth sports programs, and scholarship opportunities.
Avellaneda said his only issue with the linkage fees is that projects of similar sizes charged at the same rate could have differing impacts depending on where they are located.
“But at the end of the day, I just wanted to get something done, and it may not be perfect, but the fact is that this is what other communities are doing,” said Avellaneda.
While the proposal takes the negotiating power away from the City Manager, Avellaneda said it will actually make his job easier, since he will be able to tell developers that there is a set amount of money for a project that will go in a special fund.
“The beauty of this is that it’s public and it’s transparent, and the control rests with the elected officials, as it should,” said Avellaneda.