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Local government sees some fees rise

By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

City and county planning departments that act as lead agencies in state environmental quality act compliance procedures will pay more money to get copies of the final decision issued when the investigation is finished.

That's because of a new law signed in September. The law, Senate Bill 1535, sizably increases the cost of filing fees paid to the California Fish and Game department.

Whether or not those fees will be passed on to developers, businesses and individuals has yet to be decided by most lcalgovernments.

The new law fine-tuned several sections of the state's Fish and Game Code — making it possible for the state agency to generate more of the money it needs to carry out its mandates and management the lands it acquires.

In some cases, the fees nearly triple. The Environmental Impact Report fee, for example, rose will from $850 to $2,500.

At the same time, a fee exemption is being eliminated.

Local governments that act as lead agencies in California Environmental Quality Act procedures received news of the change in a Dec. 19 memo from Terry Roberts, Director of the State Clearinghouse.

The Fish and Game filing fees are due when a Notice of Determination is filed.

State lead agencies have to submit the fee to the State Clearinghouse when they file a notice is filed.

Local lead agencies pay the fee to the county clerk of the county in which they file.

Because a lead agency usually files its notice before responsible agencies file their in a project, the payment is required when the lead agency is filed.

If that's not done, the fee is due and payable when a responsible agency files its notice.

A state agency that is taking action as directed to through a certified regulatory program has to sent its filing fee to fish and game before it files its notice with the state Secretary for Resources.

If the fee is not paid for a project, it will not be allowed, and any local permits issued to it become invalid.

In addition, lead agencies no no longer can exempt a project from the filing fee requirement by determining that any effects it will have on fish and wildlife would be minimal.

If the project's advocate thinks that's the case, it can be contested with the state departmen. If the department agrees, it will supply the exemption form.

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