Reynoldsburg City Council eyes TIF for M/I project on Waggoner Road

KELLEY YOUMAN
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Reynoldsburg City Council is considering a tax-increment-financing district encompassing a 130-acre planned housing project on the east side of Waggoner Road, near Rodebaugh Road. M/I Homes is proposing to build 354 single-family houses, ranging from about $290,000 to $400,000.

Reynoldsburg officials hope to leverage funds from a new housing development to improve Waggoner Road between Broad and Main streets.

City Council heard the first reading July 27 of an ordinance that, if approved, would create a tax-increment-financing district encompassing all of a 130-acre planned housing project on the east side of Waggoner Road, near the intersection with Rodebaugh Road.

A TIF is an economic-development mechanism used by local governments to finance public-infrastructure improvements, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.

It locks in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation is approved, diverting the incremental revenue from traditional property-tax collecting entities to designated uses, such as funding necessary improvements or infrastructure to support a new development.

The city's planning commission approved plans in May for an M/I Homes neighborhood with 354 single-family houses, expected to sell for $290,000 to about $400,000, according to information provided by M/I. Last month, council voted unanimously to annex the property from Truro Township.

The proposed TIF requires the city to use money it generates for infrastructure improvements along Waggoner Road between Broad and Main streets, including the addition of pedestrian paths and streetlights.

Officials estimate the TIF could produce about $20 million in revenue over 10 years for the city.

Improvements along Waggoner Road would be done in two phases, each estimated to cost about $7.5 million, Mayor Joe Begeny said.

Phase 1 would stretch from Broad Street to Priestley Drive. Phase 2 would complete the improvements from Priestley to Main Street, with the potential to add a more visible entrance to Pine Quarry Park.

In January, council approved a $65,319 purchase of a 1.9-acre lot at 1140 Waggoner Road, with the goal of adding a second entrance and larger parking lot for the 39-acre park at 8000 Kingsley Drive.

"One very large piece of feedback is the concern about the safety of the intersection of Priestley and Waggoner," Begeny said.

The intersection could be the site of a traffic-calming device, such as a stoplight or roundabout, but "those are engineering items that will be determined later on," he said.

M/I is expected to finish engineering and surveying work this year for its housing development, with plans to break ground next spring.

Josh Barkan, M/I Homes vice president of land, said a few dozen homes could be completed by the end of 2021, so homeowners could close on the properties and move in during the first half of 2022. The company expects to take five years to fully construct the community.

"A lot of it has to do with the anticipated growth of the community," Begeny said. "The M/I development provides an opportunity for funding for this project."

He said TIF revenue expectations could vary, depending on the average cost of homes sold.

"We are giving a conservative estimate based on the average price of a home at $310,000," Begeny said.

Enacting a TIF is an effort to improve Waggoner Road "in a way that doesn't put the city at risk" financially, he said.

"The residential TIFs would allow the city to use its share of property-tax dollars for infrastructure improvements, with the funds accumulating over 10 years as opposed to 30, helping speed the process," Begeny said.

The proposed TIF breaks down the 130-acre parcel into six incentive districts, each of which could start collecting TIF funds at a different time.

The 10-year "life" of each incentive district wouldn't start until there is at least $2 million worth of building improvements, city attorney Chris Shook said.

"We want to make sure that this development is actually getting built out before we start those construction projects, to use the maximum amount of the 10-year TIF as possible," he said.

Under the proposal, construction on Waggoner Road wouldn't happen until the TIF begins collecting revenue, meaning the road improvements wouldn't happen at least until M/I starts building.

Reynoldsburg officials are hopeful the road work could start as soon as 2023.

"I am excited for the opportunity to get these long-awaited improvements to Waggoner Road," Begeny said. "The safety of our drivers and pedestrians will improve, which is a major concern of mine, as well as council.

"The community will also benefit (by) connecting different parts of Reynoldsburg for a more walkable community."

The new M/I development will be called Spring Hill Farms, a nod to the site's agricultural past.

The company's plans call for setting aside about 38 acres for passive green space and recreation uses, including trails, picnic shelters and playgrounds. Other features include nearly 100 streetlights, cluster mailboxes and three retention ponds.

An entrance to the community is planned off Waggoner Road, with an entry sign and landscaping, including more than 600 shrubs, trees and perennials.

The land is owned by the Rhoderick C. Griffin trust. A white house and about 10 acres surrounding it would remain the property of the trust, with the neighborhood built around it.

The city held a virtual town hall about the project in July. It was livestreamed and is available to view on the city's Facebook page.

Council is in recess in August, but members are expected to discuss the TIF again in September, with a final vote scheduled at their Oct. 26 meeting.

Council's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at City Hall, 7232 E. Main St.

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