No fees, more business

Three months after Molalla began waiving building fees, development is already picking up.

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In an experiment that no Oregon city has tried in at least 15 years, Molalla began waiving building fees in December to spur economic development.

Three months later, the experiment — which is set to last throughout 2010 or until it collects $1 million in waivers — is already paying off, but not without criticism.

A 160-unit apartment complex and adjoining retail project, which the developer said wouldn’t have moved forward without the waivers, is now targeted for Molalla’s struggling downtown core. A formal application is expected as early as Thursday.

Yet far from generating unanimous local applause, the proposed project has become a focal point in the contentious debate over who should foot the bill for development.

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