TAMPA — City council members this week denied a request by home developer Ashton Woods to impose a $142 fee on 115 Port Tampa residents.
Property owners in the southeast corner of The Landings, an Ashton Woods development at the southern end of the Port Tampa neighborhood, were notified in August about the planned assessment fee that would have been used to pay for streetlights near their homes.
At Thursday’s meeting, each city council member expressed concern about the fairness of the measure, which would have been charged only to some residents while all homeowners in The Landings would benefit from the additional streetlights.
Katie Serrano, a resident of the neighborhood, told the council she was notified she would have to pay the fee while her neighbors across the street would not.
“I’m not opposed to improving the neighborhood and paying the fair share,” she said. “Just make sure its done fairly.”
According to its original development agreement with the city, Ashton Woods is responsible for supplying streetlights. But the developer, per city code, does have authority to request an assessment fee, city staffers told the council.
“There is nothing unusual about this particular application,” said city transportation manager Jean Duncan.
But Councilman Harry Cohen, who represents the neighborhood, said in addition to his questions about the fairness of the fee, the application should not have been brought before the council on Sept. 12. The measure would have to be approved by Sept. 15 to be included in next year’s tax bills, he said, and the council did not have time to study the issue or, if desired, request changes to the application.
John Grandoff, a Tampa attorney who represents Atlanta-based Ashton Woods, said “there was no excuse” for bringing the matter before the council on such a tight deadline. He offered to withdraw the application.