Infrastructure work is underway on a housing development on Delaware's south side that the city has estimated could add 2,250 residents.
Sewer and water lines are in the ground and work has started on two roads in the Terra Alta development planned east of Pollock Road and north of Braumiller Road, said Delaware attorney Mike Shade, who has represented the development group, Pollock Ventures LLC, before Delaware City Council.
One of the roads will run east from Pollock Road to Berlin Station Road, he said.
The second will head north from a roundabout on Braumiller, he said, adding both would be entry points for streets on which future homes will sit.
The city approved preliminary plans for the Terra Alta development, to be built east of Pollock Road, in 2008 just before the worst of the Great Recession.
The developers returned to City Council in June seeking approval for a New Community Authority.
Unlike most NCAs -- which assess costs on property for infrastructure improvements, such as roads -- the Terra Alta request instead sought to raise money for amenities, such as a pool, walking trails, fire pits, gazebos and pavilions. Terra Alta was described as a "best-of-class" development that would contain hundreds of homes with projected prices of up to about $375,000. The plan was discussed at several council meetings before the request was approved Dec. 10.
The NCA would add an assessment of 7.5 mills on the property-tax bills of the new homes. Per ThisWeek's calculations, the assessment could cost $262.50 annually per $100,000 in property valuation.
Shade attended several council meetings to defend the concept of using an NCA to fund amenities.
Among other points, he told council the Ohio Revised Code allows such use of NCA-raised money. The developers earlier told council the cost of the amenities would be around $4.6 million.
Terra Alta's proposal, Shade said, conforms with the state statute's goal of providing benefits to the city by helping facilitate development and helping developers to recover costs.
George Hellinger cast the lone dissenting vote when council approved the plan Dec. 10.
He said he would have preferred the cost of such amenities be covered by homeowners association fees.
"The NCA charges go on property-tax bills," he said. "It's not a tax, but many will consider they are. It puts the city in a bad light."
Shade told council NCA charges must be disclosed to homebuyers before they close on a purchase.
Hellinger fears that because homebuyers are inundated with paperwork, the NCA assessment easily could be overlooked.
"It's not in the best interests of most consumers," he said.
An attorney representing the developer, Gregory Stypes of Columbus, told council in October that homeowners association fees "cannot possibly bear those capital costs and stay competitive."
The developers modified their petition prior to the Dec. 10 council approval. A provision was added that the assessments would cease when the debt is paid off.
The city had suggested reducing the assessment's millage, but accepted 7.5 mills after council members noted during an October meeting that 7.5 mills would pay the debt off faster than a lower millage.