A new home being built in Hidden Meadows Estates is one of only two homes under construction so far this year in Paola. Paola City Council members recently approved a new housing incentive program to try and encourage more construction.

PAOLA — Paola city leaders are bringing back a revised version of the city’s previous new housing incentive program to encourage home construction throughout the city.

The previous program was renewed in March 2018 but expired at the end of last year. It offered reduced fees associated with new home construction to encourage development.

Multiple people have asked the city to bring back the program in some form. Dawn Atwell, managing partner of Elite Home Builders, spoke during the July Paola City Council meeting and asked city leaders to consider bringing back the incentive program.

“It made a big difference for us,” said Atwell, who is considering building homes in Rockwood Estates. “There’s a lot of build-ready lots in our community.”

Ernie and Connie Scherman, who live in rural Miami County outside of Paola, also have spoken at council meetings asking the city officials to bring back the program. The Schermans say they’d like to build a home in the city.

The new program, which Paola City Council members approved during their Sept. 10 meeting, is a tiered incentive program based on construction valuation as determined and approved on the building permit application.

Homes with a construction value of $100,000 to $210,000, or properties in special assessment districts that expire after 2016, will receive a 65 percent reduction of the building permit fee, 65 percent reduction of the plan review fee, and 50 percent reduction of the sewer and water connection fees, according to the incentive program.

Those percentages drop to 55 percent, 55 percent and 45 percent for homes with a construction value of $210,001 to $299,999; and 45 percent, 45 percent and 40 percent for homes with a construction value of $300,000 and greater.

For example, all of the regular fees would total $8,116.56 for a $100,000 home, but that total would drop to $3,994.54 under Tier 1 of the incentive program — a savings of more than $4,100.

During 2017 and 2018, a total of 23 permits for new homes were issued in Paola. Six of those had a construction value between $100,000 and $210,000; 14 had a construction value between $210,001 and $299,999; and three had a construction value of $300,000 or more, according to statistics provided by the city.

There only have been two permits for new homes so far this year — one for a home Atwell is building in Rockwood Estates, and another for a home Craig Browning is building in Hidden Meadows Estates.

City building permits staff members said Atwell and Browning also recently have filed for permits for an additional home each, and both will be eligible for the new incentive program.

The program is set to run for a year until Sept. 30, 2020, and it only applies to new single-family detached residential structures.

City Manager Jay Wieland said there is a need for more starter homes for young families in the community, and he thinks the new incentive program will help encourage that development.

“We think it’s a pretty solid program,” he said.

It’s not the first time the program was brought back after a public request.

In 2016, the council agreed to revive the program after Brad Ennis spoke during the public comment portion of a council meeting.

At that time, the program had been active for two years before expiring at the end of 2015.

Editor and Publisher Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or brian.mccauley@miconews.com.

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