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Flowery Branch to finalize tax plan

Public hearing scheduled for Wednesday

POSTED: December 12, 2007 7:06 a.m.

As Flowery Branch prepares for Wednesday's vote to finalize the city's tax allocation district plan, Oakwood begins its planning process Monday for the city's tax allocation district plan.

Although both Oakwood and Flowery Branch voters approved each city's TAD referendum on Sept. 18, Flowery Branch is slightly farther along in drafting the redevelopment plan.

A tax allocation district is an economic tool that assists defined areas of cities in funding the public infrastructure necessary to spur population growth and development. The ultimate aim is increasing assessed property values and attracting developers to the area.

The designated TAD is formed to qualify the area for use of tax increment financing, which is generated by future increases in tax proceeds from tax digest growth in the district. As assessed property values rise from redevelopment, Hall County and the Hall County School Board will forego the extra revenue, allowing money to be pooled into a TAD fund to support public infrastructure projects.

TAD projects can include sewer expansion, streetscape redevelopment, park improvements, street lighting, landscaping, property and building acquisition and environmental remediation among others.

Flowery Branch City Council is planning to finalize the boundaries of the district as well as the details of its finance plan at the public hearing and city council meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

The 567-acre Flowery Branch TAD plan currently includes the city's historic downtown area on Main Street and stretches to the Interstate 985 corridor.

The TAD can be funded through bonds or loans from a lending institution. Gary Mongeon, who is vice president of the Bleakly Advisory Group that drafted the Flowery Branch plan, said bonds are likely the best option for the city.

According to Mongeon, the projected tax
increment for the Flowery Branch TAD could be sufficient to finance roughly $11.2 million in future TAD bonds.

Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew said approximately $8 million of TAD proceeds will be used to double the city's sewer capacity to 2 million gallons. He said construction on the project could begin within the next two years.

The other primary goal of the Flowery Branch TAD is to redevelop the city's downtown historic district. This would allow underutilized buildings to be developed into retail and restaurant establishments and possibly town homes.

As a result of residents' requests at the first Flowery Branch public hearing on the TAD, the city council and staff researched adding four neighborhoods into the tax allocation district: Newberry Point, Victoria Court, Carriage Crossing and Trail West Mobile Home Park.

As of Friday, Flowery Branch Planning Director James Riker said City Council likely will take the recommendation of the Bleakly Advisory Group and will not include those neighborhoods in the TAD.

Although Mongeon said he recommended excluding the four neighborhoods, he added that sewer improvements for the Newberry Point neighborhood could still be accomplished as part of a larger capital investment that includes TAD financing.

"Everybody within our sewer service district could benefit from expanding sewer capacity," Riker said. "And the people at Newberry Point will benefit from having expanded sewer capacity, because right now, even if the lines were run into the subdivision, there is no capacity for them."

The other three neighborhoods have issues involving fragmented ownership or personal property, such as mobile homes, that do not make them ideal candidates for the district now, according to Mongeon.

However, Mongeon's assessment concluded that future redevelopment could likely be done in the Trail West Mobile Home Park without TAD financing. He added that a separate TAD could be created for Flowery Branch later if necessary.

Flowery Branch City Council has held two public hearings on the TAD. Oakwood City Council's first public hearing to field input from residents regarding its tax allocation district will be 6 p.m. Monday.

The City Council will review opportunities to redevelop the existing road network and inadequate utility infrastructure that inhibits the development of the city's historic downtown. The Oakwood TAD aims primarily to establish an Oakwood town center.

"We are pretty well at the concept stage of our plan defining the district," Oakwood City Manager Stan Brown said. "We are looking at infrastructure and are looking at what kind of infrastructure projects would best enhance the development of our TAD."

Brown said the Oakwood TAD will likely include the area surrounding City Hall and the Thurmon Tanner Parkway corridor. He added the Georgia Department of Transportation will extend Thurmon Tanner Parkway from Plainview Road to Mundy Mill Road, which will open up the corridor for development.

"It's an underdeveloped area that we think has a lot of potential," Brown said. "And it's underdeveloped now because there's no transportation."



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