Hilliard City Council on Nov. 26 moved one step closer to a decision on a proposed commercial and residential development at Cemetery Road and Franklin Street.
Council members held a public hearing for an ordinance creating a tax-increment financing district for the development.
"Usually we approve a project and then do a TIF," said Hilliard Economic Development Director David Meeks.
But in this instance, Meeks said, it is advantageous to establish the TIF so the city could use the current and lower property value as a baseline.
Glenn Dugger, an attorney representing John Royer of Buckeye KRG, the proposed developer of the site, said the policy is "putting the cart before the horse, but with good reason."
Dugger said Royer is striving to meet a Dec. 5 filing deadline required for the case to be heard at the January meeting of the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission.
"This will be a significant improvement for downtown Hilliard," Dugger said.
Dugger told council members he could not share any particulars about the proposed plan, but that the most recent plan he saw included 183 one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as retail and office buildings.
The $15 million to $18 million project would align Luxair Drive with Franklin Street, require the relocation of the Starliner Diner and demolish the inoperable grain elevator and silo in the area.
A 30-year TIF is proposed. It would use property-tax revenue to fund the infrastructure required for the commercial and residential development.
A 10-year, 75 percent TIF would apply for the first 10 years. A "non-school" TIF would apply for the remainder of the term, Meeks said. A "non-school" TIF means the local schools would continue to receive revenue from any new businesses in the area.
City Councilman Joe Erb reiterated his concern of setting a precedent for the use of a TIF for residential development.
Councilman Al Iosue said it was "premature" to begin criticism of the development as no plan has yet been delivered.
"This ordinance only establishes a TIF," Iosue said, adding that City Council has the option to reject the proposed development for which the TIF is being established.
Norwich Street resident Ben Buoni appealed to City Council members to be particular diligent when considering the proposed development.
"This can be a good thing if it's done right, or harmful if it is not properly developed," Buoni said.