Special tax zone would benefit area

Before offices or high-end homes could be built around a new Greenwood interchange, roads would need to be widened to prepare for thousands of vehicles, and sewer lines would need to be extended to serve new development.

That work is expected to cost millions but is needed in order to attract new development to the southeast side of the city, which officials have long viewed as a new entrance into Greenwood, officials said.

In order to pay for those improvements, the city wants to create its seventh tax-increment financing, or TIF, district around the new Interstate 65 interchange at Worthsville Road. The new TIF would set aside property taxes from new development mainly between Sheek Road to east of Collins Road.

That money could then be spent to improve roads, drainage, sewers and public safety and add parks and trails to a larger area, both north and south of Worthsville Road, from Griffith Road to Emerson Avenue.

The city has a list of projects that could be paid for with money collected from new development in the area, including widening roads, building a new fire station, buying land and developing new parks and expanding the sewer system.

But the money collected from new development won’t go to other local governments, such as schools and libraries. That means Clark-Pleasant won’t be getting tax dollars from new development around the newest I-65 interchange for decades to come. City officials said they have been talking with the school district about how they can work together, including funding projects for the school district, such as the internet equipment the city recently funded.

By using new tax dollars to improve infrastructure, the city can attract new development in the future. That is exactly what the city has done with its other TIF districts, said Brent Tilson, member of the city redevelopment commission. For example, the city used money from the eastside TIF to make improvements to Graham Road, and without those improvements, ULTA, a cosmetic distribution company that employs 400 people, likely would not have come here, Tilson said.

“Without the eastside TIF, all we have done, we wouldn’t have any of this,” Tilson said.

Developing the Worthsville Road area around a new interchange is a once in a lifetime opportunity, Tilson said.

Some of the key projects the city is focusing on are widening and improving what were previously rural, county roads and extending the sewer system, said Mark Richards, director of community development services. The city gets about $1 million per year to fix, repave and repair roads, and that isn’t enough to do the reconstruction needed on roads in that area, he said.

The road projects are especially important because that area is not ready for the development of offices, light industrial businesses, high-end homes and apartments until after the roads are improved, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said.

“The infrastructure out there is horrible,” Myers said.

The city’s list of projects includes reconstructing parts of Clark School, Worthsville, Graham and Five Points roads, building new connector roads, such as on Pushville Road from Emerson Avenue and Graham Road, adding new stormwater detention, extending sewers, building trails, buying land and developing new parks and adding a new fire station to serve the area, according to the city’s documents.

The city has not released the cost of those projects or how much the new TIF district is expected to collect.

In the past, the city had the idea that developers should pay for their own infrastructure work, such as sewers and roads, but that stifles development, Richards said. Now, if the city pays for that work, it can be used as an incentive to help attract new development, he said.

And, if the city does the stormwater projects, rather than assigning them to individual developers, the work can be done with a regional approach to drainage, rather than by each property, Tilson said.

Greenwood has basic infrastructure, including sewers, in place to handle the first wave of development as it begins in the area, council member and redevelopment commission member Mike Campbell said. Currently, the Worthsville Road sewer lift station can handle new development near the interchange, but as the area grows, stormwater and sewer systems will need to be upgraded and improved, Campbell said.

“This is needed to develop this area,” Campbell said. “We will be taking tax dollars from this area and putting them right back into infrastructure projects needed to take what is farm land and turn it into commercial use.”

But officials said the majority of the projects are years away, with work likely starting in the next five years and continuing for 20 to 30 years, Richards said.

Some work, such as to improve Collins Road, could be done sooner because it is needed, officials said. If approved, a new TIF district likely wouldn’t begin collecting money for 1½ to two years.

Before a new TIF district could be created, it would need approval from the redevelopment commission, plan commission and city council. The redevelopment commission is set to discuss the new TIF next month.

At least one city council member won’t be voting in favor of the new TIF district.

“I understand what TIF districts were intended to do, but we have gone so far beyond that,” council member Bruce Armstrong said. “This administration has tried to use TIF districts as a way to get around tax caps. We need to use these TIFs and work with our neighbors like school districts and the library.”

Reporter Corey Elliot contributed to this report.

At a glance

Here is a look at the projects that could be paid for from money collected in a new TIF district along Worthsville Road:

Allen Road

Resurfacing and widening, and adding sidewalks

Pushville Road

Extending the road to connect Emerson Avenue and Graham Road

Clark School Road

Reconstructing the road to connect Griffith Road and County Road 300E

Worthsville Road

Reconstructing the road into a widened two-lane road with wide shoulders between Collins and Griffith roads

Graham Road

Reconstructing the road to three lanes between Allen and Graham roads

Collins Road

Reconstructing the road to three lanes between Allen Road and the southern city border

Griffith Road

Constructing a new three-lane road between Worthsville and Clark School roads, and reconstructing the road to three lanes between Allen and Worthsville roads

Billingsly Road

Constructing a new three-lane road between Graham and Collins roads and two-lane road between Collins and Griffith roads

Connector road

Constructing a new three-lane road between Graham and Collins roads

Five Points Road

Reconstruction of the road from Worthsville to Clark School roads

Regional stormwater detention

New stormwater detention facilities in four areas around Worthsville and Collins roads

Sanitary sewers

About 2.75 miles of new sewer interceptor

New pedestrian trails, bicycle paths

Park land acquisition and development

New recreational attractions

New fire station

A new fire station will be needed to serve the Worthsville Road area

Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.