Although wary of having their land declared "blighted," owners of property that could be developed with help from Farmington's newly formed Redevelopment Agency appeared friendly to the concept.
The Farmington council, acting as the city's Redevelopment Agency, held a meeting with landowners to explain how the agency works and why the city is considering declaring what is mostly farmland and pasture as blighted.The area under consideration is in the city's northwest quadrant, from the U.S. 89 and I-15 interchange at Burke Lane along the west side of U.S. 89 past Shepard Lane north to the Kaysville border.
The study area totals about 400 acres, affecting 27 property owners, but under state law the redevelopment area can only have 100 acres. And the city probably will limit it to around 40 acres, said council member Marda Dillree, who spearheaded the agency's study committee.
Acknowledging that redevelopment actions are usually used to rebuild decaying downtown and commercial areas, Dillree said the area around the K mart development on Shepard Lane is the council's first choice because it requires extensive road and utility improvements and would yield more immediate tax benefits.
The development of a shopping center on the northwest corner of Shepard Lane and US 89 requires improvements that will cost the city around $270,000 above what the developer has agreed to contribute, City Manager Max Forbush said.
Financing that out of current city revenue would push the capital improvements program for the rest of the city back three to five years, Forbush said.
The $270,000 in improvements would take care of the priority projects, Forbush said, leaving $300,000 in needed improvements yet to be funded.
By designating the area as blighted, the city can issue redevelopment revenue bonds, using the property taxes generated by improvements and development in the area to repay the bonds.
Other political entities, such as the school district, will receive the same amount of revenue from property taxes that land in the redevelopment district generated before its inclusion.
For the first five years, all increases in property tax generated by new developments would go to the agency, Forbush explained. After that, all taxing entities begin to share the increased revenue on a sliding scale until the 21st year, when the RDA's share expires.
Some residents oppose RDAs because they believe they siphon tax revenues away from schools and into cities.
Dillree, who served on the Davis School Board before her council term, said she was skeptical about the agency's redevelopment plans at first for that reason. But she believes schools and other taxing entities eventually benefit beyond what they would without an agency-enhanced development.
"I went into it reluctantly, as a former school board member," Dillree said. "I looked at it critically, especially for the effect on tax revenue to the school district.
"But I'm convinced it's the way to go," she said. "It's an investment, it pays off in the future. It's a way to stretch our tax dollars, to do the improvements that are needed immediately without increasing our tax rate."
Council member Pat Achter, a teacher in the Salt Lake district, said such redevelopment areas in that city have "put money into my classroom, money that I didn't have a few years ago."
Wednesday's meeting with landowners was scheduled by the council to explain the concept to them and answer their questions.
A study, estimated at around $7,000, will be done to determine what portion of the 400 acres meets the criteria for blight as outlined in state statutes. Another public hearing will be conducted before any area is declared as blighted and included in the redevelopment district.