Green seeks to create TIF for planned Southwood development area

GREEN — The city administration this week will propose a creative way to finance a proposed development area without new taxes on current residents, businesses and industries.

The plan, which is to be unveiled at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, involves nearly 180 acres of vacant land east of South Arlington Road as well as 63 properties already zoned residential, general industrial and commercial business.

Two issues on the subject face council: establishing a tax increment financing (or TIF) incentive district and approving details of the proposed project.

The administration’s long-range vision calls for using TIF funding to upgrade infrastructure and attract developers within an area bounded by Boettler Road and Interstate 77 on the south and north and Arlington Road at Southwood Drive and just east of Tabs drive on the east and west.

Development of the district would include construction of a nearly mile-long extension of Southwood Drive eastward from Arlington, intersecting with Fortuna Drive before concluding at Tabs Drive. The new stretch of road would improve traffic flow in the area, allowing motorists and Green safety forces to more quickly reach destinations across the city.

Public hearing Tuesday kicks off consideration process

No cost estimate is possible until engineering work begins, which could take a few years, said Chris Hardesty, the city’s community development director. He said he has talked extensively about the vision with Mayor Gerard Neugebauer and Planning Director Wayne Wiethe since joining the Planning Department staff in January.

Hardesty, Wiethe and City Engineer Paul Pickett will present the details during the public hearing. Everyone attending the 7 p.m. meeting at the Central Administration Building must wear face masks because of the recent resurgence of COVID-19 infections. Council action on the proposal could come as soon as Sept. 14.

Hardesty graduated in 2010 from Green High School and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Akron and a master’s in executive business administration from Walsh University.

“We had a mutual desire to find a way to finance the Southwood proposal without new taxes for current residents, businesses and industries,” Hardesty said. “But we didn’t necessarily have a mechanism that we were completely aware of to fund it, so we had to get creative.”

Changes in the Ohio Revised Code provided the flexibility needed to create a TIF initiative district that, instead of using such funding solely for business and commercial development, has provided the mechanism to include new residential development within the designated district. Funding from the developers would create the revenues to extend the road, Hardesty said.

Infrastructure updates are a crucial component of plan

Pickett has certified that infrastructure that would serve the district Is inadequate to meet the district’s development needs. Without the improvements, the economic district wouldn’t be feasible or sustainable long term, he wrote.

“Collectively, what we hope is that construction of the roadway and development of this area is going to develop the whole area in itself,” Hardesty said. “One, it is going to alleviate some traffic issues that we have from arterial roadways, specifically, Tabs Drive. We have this big business park here and they all dump out onto Boettler Road. They have no northern or western egress.”

While easing traffic concerns, he said, the new road would provide “prime development opportunities to not only increase our population, but also increase our tax base and really promote businesses in the area. Overall, it is going to have a very beneficial impact and foster economic growth in the area.

“Connectivity is so huge; we want to connect everything. We want to create the ability for people to travel more easily travel within the city. When we can bring in Southwood, eventually we can connect Springhill [Soccer Complex] to Southwood — and then any other developments that come off this can connect to Southwood” with easier connections to the city’s main thoroughfares

He added that TIF funding received from new businesses, industries and residences is redirected to the municipality to be used for public infrastructure. He also noted the Green Local Schools District will receive its portion of funds as usual.

“The diversity and ability that we get from this TIF district is going to be a very nice boost to our ability to not only pay our current debts but create new infrastructure around the city.”

George W. Davis can be reached at: [email protected].