Throughout the state, at least 75 municipalities have an impact fee ordinance on the books, including many towns in southern New Hampshire. Some towns, such as Derry, levy impact fees on commercial developments to cover the cost of road improvements, but these are distinct from the town zoning ordinances elsewhere.
Munn said the most common kinds of impact fees are for schools and roads, followed by library, public safety buildings and solid waste facilities.
Several towns, including Atkinson and Sandown, are part of a regional school district and collect only school fees, which they pass on to the district to pay for school construction or expansion.
Atkinson charges $2,061 for a single-family home. Currently, the town has about $46,000 in fees, and last year collected them from only six people, said Shirley Galvin, a town administrative assistant.
Sandown has been collecting school fees since 2001. It now charges $4,511 for a single-family home, said Kim Naimo of the town's Planning Department.
Naimo said the fees have worked well. They have helped offset taxes and helped fund needed education projects.
More fees on the horizon?
Looking ahead, Munn thinks more towns will turn to drainage fees to help offset anticipated unfunded mandates from the Environmental Protection Agency.
But some other towns have repealed their impact fee ordinances, Northrop said, finding that they were more trouble than they were worth. He doesn't see this emerging as trend, however, and expects more towns to put them on the books than repeal them.
Essentially, they have a place in land-use management, so long as people don't think they are a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. "I think some towns have the misconception that they can raise a lot of money without raising taxes," Northrop said.
Local towns with impact fees
* For a single-family home
** No residential fees. Commercial fee based on project's road impact.
Source: Town officials; N.H. Office of Energy and Planning