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Burns Harbor considers designating Traditions apartments as a TIF allocation area

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By PAULENE POPARAD

The Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission voted Monday to have its attorney research whether the RDC could bring the Traditions apartment project into a TIF district and capture future property-tax revenue from new construction there.

If the move looks feasible, a financial consultant would be engaged to provide an economic analysis.

RDC members agreed to review the boundaries of the current TIF district, in part located south of U.S. 20 taking in the Tech Business Center industrial park west of Indiana 149.

Traditions, located in The Village subdivision, has approximately 10 multi-unit buildings completed, about five more and a community center under construction now, and five additional buildings planned in the future.

The Village subdivision website predicts about 10,000 people eventually will live in the single-family, attached and apartment homes there.

Duneland School Corp. and other government units typically stand to lose future tax money if a TIF allocation area is designated. School Board member Ralph Ayres is a non-voting advisory member of the Burns Harbor RDC and he said the schools probably would take a position on another Burns Harbor TIF district.

Ayres asked when the current TIF district’s authorization expires. Clerk-treasurer Jane Jordan said she would research the matter.

At its first meeting in 16 months, the RDC also set Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. to prioritize a nearly $60 million capital projects list prepared several years ago. The items range from a $40,000 vault for the town hall to a $10 million sidewalk trail system.

Newly elected RDC president Greg Miller said the town needs to determine the environmental status of the former Standard Plaza truck stop along U.S. 20 east of Indiana 149, which tied with a Fire Department water tanker as the highest priorities on the list.

The town paid for Standard Plaza demolition and a lien placed on the property for that cost has been paid. The site is identified in the town’s 2009 comprehensive plan as a prime area for brownfield redevelopment.

RDC member Jeff Freeze, elected the 2013 secretary/treasurer, said the City of Portage has been buying land along its portion of U.S. 20 for future development and that’s a viable strategy for Burns Harbor to use, too. Freeze said he will talk to representatives of Portage and the Town of Porter, both Burns Harbor’s neighbors along U.S. 20, about a shared corridor vision.

Said Miller, “If we’re all working together we’ll have a more coherent result in the end.”

Discussion regarding possible acquisition of specific parcels can be done in closed executive session.

Weaver Boos consultants are preparing recommendations for Burns Harbor about future green-development projects it might want to undertake, and Miller said town representatives are talking with Frontier communications about expanded internet options for the community.

During public comment Eric Hull called the RDC’s initiatives a step in the right direction.

The RDC hasn’t met regularly because its approximately $600,000 a year dedicated share of town property-tax income has gone to make annual payments on bonds that financed installation of the town’s sanitary sewers and an upgrade to the sewage treatment plant.

The bonds were paid off recently and once this year’s $168,100 loan from the town’s rainy day fund to help do that is returned, the remaining TIF money goes to the RDC again.

Miller said it’s too early to adopt goals for 2014/2015 until the RDC has some idea of its anticipated revenue stream.

Freeze, who served as last year’s RDC president, was elected vice-president Monday. With cash again to spend, “Next year this body will resume the role of development and identify projects we could undertake.”

RDC member Mike Perrine was absent. All commission members except Ayres also serve on the Burns Harbor Town Council.

 

Posted 10/2/2013