After years fighting for the change at the Legislature, Minneapolis will take its first steps Thursday toward charging developers a fee for parks near their projects.

The park dedication fee was made possible by a tweak in state law that became effective earlier this year. The city has proposed charging developers $1,500 per residential unit or $200 per new employee at a commercial development.

The City Council's committee of the whole gave local approval of the state law change Thursday morning. It goes into effect on December 31, 2013. Similar language passed several years ago, but changes were necessary for it to be implemented properly.

The dedication fee ran into trouble at the Legislature this winter when Republicans successfully amended it to prevent the fee from being levied for parks within several blocks of a level-three sex offender's home. The bill author, Rep. Frank Hornstein, called the move "gutter politics."

The bill was later passed without the sex offender language.

Governments across the metro area already levy dedication fees to help pay for parks. Unlike those communities, however, Minneapolis residents already pay property taxes to fund the Park and Recreation Board, which oversees the city's parks.

Developers have resisted the fee, calling it an onerous cost for new construction in Minneapolis. Developers in the suburbs, where the fees are already active, also complain that local governments are imposing the fee too liberally.