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Meridian councilmen OK subdivision incentives

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Sept. 5, 2001
City Councilman Barbara Henson said a proposal city leaders approved Tuesday is a good first step toward encouraging more residential development in Meridian.
Council members voted 5-0 and with little discussion to let the city cover part of the cost of water and sewer improvements on public property in new residential subdivisions.
The council vote came almost two months after the Meridian Planning Commission endorsed an incentives package for developers. City leaders believe increased residential development will lure more people back to the city and improve the city tax base.
The proposal would take effect as soon as the mayor signs it.
The incentives package would let the city provide water and sewer improvements on public property. Improvements could include water lines, sewer lines and fire hydrants; they would not include force mains, water meters, meter boxes and water and sewer taps.
Plan details
Once Meridian's city engineer approves a developer's construction plans, the city could provide water and sewer improvements that equal up to 25 percent of the value of the subdivision's water and sewer infrastructure.
In subdivisions with homes that sell for $125,000 or less, the city could provide water and sewer improvements that equal up to 30 percent of the value of the subdivision's water and sewer infrastructure.
The incentives package also would let the city borrow money if needed to fund the improvements. And property taxes would be charged for the undeveloped lot until the developer finishes a home and it is occupied.
Mel Bounds, president of Bounds Building Co., said city leaders have "handled it right in terms of keeping (property taxes) down as much as they can." But he said he disagrees with the way the city would help fund water and sewer improvements.
Developers of subdivisions with homes costing $160,000 or more "don't need subsidies. They're going to build anyway." He said assistance should go to developers who are building homes that sell for less than that.
City unfair
Bounds said that contractors have received unfair treatment in Meridian over the past 10 years.
Henson, though, said the new incentives could help. She said she especially likes the fact that the new law gives incentives to all developers, not just those who are building in higher-priced areas.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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