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Road Improvement Impact Fee Ordinance and Smart Growth Criteria

Kane County

Policy and Governance

An MPC policy and governance case study

Policy background

To encourage sensible growth, Kane County has reduced or removed impact fees on new developments designed to reduce the use of automobiles. The Smart Growth Discount Program was first implemented in 2007 and was included in the 2012 Road Improvement Impact Fee Ordinance, as part of Kane County’s Comprehensive Road Improvement Plan (CRIP). The intent of the discount program is to encourage new development to meet the county’s Smart Growth Criteria, which are aimed at reducing road trips and, therefore, the need for new road construction.

Kane County Smart Growth Criteria:

  • Mixed land uses
  • Compact building design
  • A range of housing opportunities and choices
  • Walkable neighborhoods
  • Distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place
  • Preservation of open space, farmland, natural beauty and critical environmental areas
  • Development directed toward existing communities
  • A variety of transportation choices
  • Predictable, fair and cost-effective development decisions
  • Community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions
  • Industrial infill and redevelopment

Road impact fees, which are required to be paid by the builders of every new housing development, can fund the construction of infrastructure that needs to be expanded because of new development. Developments that include trip reduction measures – building mixed-use developments, developing in close proximity to public transit or incorporating density and walkability – reduce strains on infrastructure. The Kane County Impact Fee Discount Program acknowledges that land use decisions impact the need for transportation infrastructure. The program offers up to a 70 percent discount for developers who include these trip reduction measures in their developments.

An affordable housing exemption to the road impact fee ordinance aims to attract new affordable and mixed-income developments. For each affordable home built (or a designated percentage of the homes in a multifamily housing development), the developer is exempt from paying the Road Improvement Impact Fee that would have been assessed for a comparable market-rate unit. Developers must sign a covenant to ensure they meet the minimum affordability requirements set by the Illinois Housing Development Authority for a period of 10 years. If the affordable homes or development fails to meet the affordability requirements in any year, the previously exempted impact fee must be paid in full by the owner. Affordable for-sale housing, while still qualifying for the same exemption, is monitored by individual Kane County municipalities, which determine the length of time homes must remain affordable and designated number of affordable homes required, such as 10 percent of the total development.

How it works

Road impact fees are assessed based on the proposed building’s predominant use. Fees can be reduced or waived for developments meeting the sensible growth features listed below, but there are no penalties for not meeting these goals. All new developments must pay the impact fee unless they are eligible for a discount. The current CRIP is in place until 2016, at which time state statute requires a new plan to be adopted and the impact fee adjusted accordingly.

To receive the minimum 40 percent discount on the impact fees, the proposed development must meet all four of the following criteria:

  • All entrances must be located within a half-mile walking distance of an existing or committed Pace fixed route bus service, within one-mile walking distance of an existing or committed Metra commuter rail station, or within a half-mile walking distance of other transit service.
  • It must have a residential component and at least four different land uses and trip generators such as parks, community centers, libraries or schools, or be within one-quarter mile walking distance of a residential zoning district and at least four of the land use/trip generators. Alternatively, the proposal can be within one-half mile walking distance of a residential zoning district and at least six of the land use/trip generators.
  • It must have an average residential density of at least seven units per acre or an average non-residential or mixed-use floor area ratio of at least 0.5.
  • It must adhere to a maximum block perimeter within the new development of 2,200 feet and ensure the main or public entrance to the building is directly accessible from the public sidewalk along the street, with no parking allowed in front of the building.

Developments that offer even greater density or are located on infill sites are eligible for additional discounts adding up to 70 percent of the standard impact fees.

Public involvement

The Road Improvement Impact Fee Ordinance went through the standard public review and comment period process required by the enabling state legislation, which included public hearings. These hearings focused on land-use consumption within Kane County to ensure future plans were as efficient and effective as possible. County staff met individually with many municipalities to discuss the program and established an Impact Fee Advisory Committee to determine land use assumptions and development of the CRIP. This committee continues to monitor and evaluate the CRIP and fee implementation, make annual progress reports and advise any necessary updates. Despite initial apprehension and concern about its application in the county’s faster growing communities, the ordinance has been positively received, particularly the potential discounts for meeting smart growth goals.

More information about the Road Improvement Impact Fee Ordinance and all related documentation »


Department of Transportation, Kane County

  • Goal

    To promote orderly development that includes affordable housing, trip reduction measures and other sensible growth goals.

  • Target

    Developers, planners and the community of Kane County.

  • Lessons learned

    By holding hearings open to the public, meeting with municipal officials and conducting countywide outreach, Kane County was able to generate support for the impact fee ordinance and its discount program. The discount program makes the connection between land use and transportation needs, by acknowledging that appropriate development can decrease trip generation and ease the burden on the road infrastructure.