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Johnson City Commission to consider Redevelopment Plan changes

October 6th, 2011 10:32 am by Gary B. Gray

The City Commission will review an amendment to its Redevelopment Plan tonight that adds an urban renewal component that would allow tax increment financing to help fund the interior rehabilitation of structures such as the Downtown Centre.
On Sept. 15, commissioners deferred a vote on the issue until the Johnson City Development Authority had reviewed and approved the addition.
The motivation corresponds with the JCDA’s effort to purchase the Downtown Centre from Washington County. However, the scope of the changes go beyond this structure to allow greater flexibility for redevelopment and to ensure these projects comply with state law.
“It’s basically an amendment to the 2006 plan in which the TIF program was developed,” said Todd Smith, Johnson City business management analyst. “Because we’re doing the Downtown Centre, we needed to change the plan to reflect an urban renewal component. The changes put into motion the ability to begin the Downtown Centre purchase and to allow Northeast State Technical Community College to move into Johnson City.”
The move also helps set the county on a course toward further economic growth through the policies laid out in the plan.
The urban renewal component identifies four focus area of redevelopment: infrastructure, public venues, commercial development and special events. It also adds a four-year financial plan for implementation and removes the third-party request for proposals process from redevelopment projects.
Commissioners also will consider adoption of an annexation policy that includes strategies such as increasing vacant land that can be developed, housing stock and total assessed property values, as well as communication with property owners and compliance with state laws.
The policy follows a recent workshop at which city officials discussed the planned annexation of a section of the Bobby Hicks Highway corridor starting from just northeast of the Gray Fossil Museum parking lot past Interstate 26 to a point about 4.5 miles northwest on Tenn. Highway 75.
Angie Charles, a development specialist with the city’s planning department, said the assessed land value of the annexation is about $13.8 million. She also estimated that more than $265,000 in annual property tax revenues and about $27,000 in state-shared tax revenues could be realized, not including annual sales tax revenue, which has not been estimated.
The plan must be reviewed and approved by the planning commission and city commissioners. Planning Director Jim Donnelly said the city likely will encounter some resistance from at least some of the more than 260 people living or doing business in the proposed annexed area.

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