|By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor
CROWN POINT A request for a tax abatement on property at Broadway and Summit
Street has injected a sense of urgency into city officials deliberations over how to
promote business development along the corridor.
Local developer Tim Heidbreder has requested that the city
extend its economic revitalization area to include 14 acres on the southwest
corner of Broadway and Summit, and grant a property tax abatement for development there.
Heidbreders attorney, Bruce Lambka, told the City Council
on Monday that Heidbreder is in negotiations with a pharmaceutical company that would
bring 160 jobs to the city, but wont locate here without a tax abatement.
And, theyre not going to wait, Lambka told the
But council members said they would not grant an abatement
request on Broadway until theyve reviewed a report being prepared by financial
consultant Greg Guerrettaz on the costs and benefits of using tax abatements and tax
increment financing districts.
Im not going to feel comfortable going on
intuition, Councilman Robert Corbin, R-5th, said. He said Guerrettazs report
will be a tool the council can use to decide whether tax abatements or a TIF district are
Under a tax abatement, property owners pay 10 percent of the
property taxes resulting from their development in the first year after development,
increasing by increments of 10 percent each year until reaching 100 percent.
In a TIF district, all property taxes are collected, but can be
used only for infrastructure development within the district.
In both cases, county, township, school and library taxes are
Besides needing more information, council members expressed
concern that granting one tax abatement now would mean granting them to everyone who comes
If we open the door, were going to set a
precedent, Councilman Paul Bremer, R-1st, said.Also, part of Heidbreders 14
acres would be dedicated to retail development, and council members were reluctant about
granting an abatement to retailers.
I think we need to be concerned about the impact on the
current retail structure, Councilman Jack Kemp, R-4th, said.
Retailers with tax abatements could gain a competitive advantage
over those without, he argued.
Councilwoman Pam Roth, R-3rd, questioned the rationale behind
tax abatements, especially on Broadway.
Merrillville has not granted any on their portion of Broadway
south of U.S. 30, she said.
I cant believe people who say we wont
build without an abatement, she added.
In the end, the council accepted first reading of the ordinance
that would extend the citys economic revitalization area, and agreed to hold a
public hearing on granting Heidbreders request for a tax abatement.
The date of the hearing on final votes on the matter will depend
on when Guerrettaz completes his study.
|109th to lose its
CROWN POINT The Board of Works on July 28 took the first step toward
straightening out one of the more dangerous stretches of road in the community, the
S curve on 109th Avenue.
This proposal is decades long in need. Its a very
dangerous situation there, City Engineer Jeff Ban said as he recommended the board
approve the hiring of RQAW to do preliminary work on the project at a cost not to exceed
RQAW will gather information from property owners in the area,
do design work and prepare cost estimates for the project, Ban said.
The S-curve, located east of Broadway, entered into
Crown Point jurisdiction in 1998 as part of an annexation. The road was originally given
an S shape, city officials said, because of the now abandoned railroad tracks that went
through that area.
Ban said the city has two options: to either take the jog out
and put pavement in its place or to look at the problem more as a whole, with curbs and
sidewalks added. He would not recommend one approach over the other at this time.
Ban noted that Winfield and Crown Point, as well as Lake and
Porter counties, have long discussed their concerns about the heavily traveled 109th
Avenue, which connects Broadway and Route 2 and is becoming an alternate to Route 30 for
some drivers. He said the four entities asked, in a joint letter, that the two-lane road
be designated a regional priority corridor, but no action was taken by the Northwest
Indiana Regional Planning Commission.
Ban said the four governmental entities believe the road should
be widened to either a four-lane road, a two-lane road with turn lanes or some other
alternative.There should certainly be more than two lanes, he stated.Mayor
James Metros agreed. In the winter there is nowhere to go if there is a problem. You
either go in a ditch or hit another (vehicle) head-on, he said.Metros noted,
however, that the project could cost millions of dollars, money that the local communities
do not have.
Winfield Town Council President Garry Rinkenberger said his
preference would be to install a center turn lane, which he said would be the best safety
improvement for the least amount of money.
He also noted that a one-lane improvement doesnt present a
red flag for pollution problems as two lanes would, and that it wouldnt cause as
great a problem for people living along the road to get into and out of their driveways.
Four lanes wont slow people down any and it would
pretty much guarantee people living along the road will not be able to get out of their
driveways, he said.He also pointed out that it wouldnt make sense to make
109th Avenue four lanes when both Route 2 and Broadway are two-lane roads where they meet