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franklin county times

Planning Commission rethinks incentives

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
June 21, 2001
The three members of the Meridian Planning Commission who attended a Wednesday afternoon work session are considering what kind of incentives would encourage developers to invest in residential growth.
In May, the commission rejected an incentives package presented by the city's Community Development Department.
The incentives proposal was designed to save developers money by offering an initial property tax break for subdivision development. It also suggested a city fund to pay for water and sewer infrastructure in new subdivisions.
Dr. Tom Lawrence, commission member, said the group agrees an incentives package would be beneficial but said commission members wanted to make sure this was best package.
Lawrence said one concern is that tax breaks for developers don't seem to have expiration dates. For example, someone could buy several lots for potential development, build one house, never begin any other construction but never pay taxes on the other lots.
Commission members asked city Planning Manager Don Jemison to correct that problem by putting a five-year cap on the length of time developers could receive the tax break. However, before any of the tax incentives being proposed could take effect, the state Legislature would first have to change state law to allow such an ordinance.
Jemison encouraged commission members to move forward on the infrastructure incentives because it could have a more immediate impact.
Although the work session seemed more productive in preparing the incentives for passage to the city council, it is unknown how much of an impact the discussions will have since only three members of the nine-member board showed up. Other than Lawrence, only Chairman Jenifer Buford and commission member Bill Phillips attended the meeting.
The planning commission is expected to vote on the incentives package at its regularly scheduled meeting next week.
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.