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franklin county times

Panel rejects Grow' plan

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
May 23, 2001
The Meridian Planning Commission rejected an incentives package Tuesday designed to promote the development of new subdivisions inside the city limits.
The package, formulated by the Community Development Department and proposed by a recent Grow Meridian Team report, would have offered developers an initial property tax break and set up a fund for the city to pay for water and sewer infrastructure in new subdivisions.
Community Development officials said they had been working on the package for more than a year with members of the Meridian Homebuilders Association and local developers.
Currently, a developer beginning a new subdivision inside the city on undeveloped property is required to pay higher property taxes. The incentives package presented to the planning commission would maintain the current undeveloped rate of property taxes until construction was complete and a certificate of occupancy was issued.
The incentives package would have also allowed the city to pay a maximum amount of $50,000 per new subdivision for water and sewer infrastructure. The package would have created a $200,000 account out of the city's general fund from which the money would be disbursed.
Several planning commission members rejected the incentives because of the way in which the infrastructure funds would be disbursed to developers, on a first come first served basis.
One commission member suggested perhaps a better way to determine who received the infrastructure money was to draw names from a hat.
Buford told Jemison before the vote, the Community Development Department needed to do more work and research on the incentives before presenting them back to the commission.
The commission's rejection of the incentives comes almost six weeks after the Grow Meridian Team made a number of suggestions designed to promote growth. One of the team's major suggestions included asking the Community Development Department to revamp some of the city's ordinances in order to make it easier for developers to build inside the city.
Jemison told commission members unless some action is taken to give developers incentives for construction, currently undeveloped land would remain that way.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3226, or e-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.