By Sandy Barnes
“What we’re trying to do is figure out a way to kick start development,” O’Malley Glen developer Steve Hanson said while asking the Town Board for substantial incentives at the Tuesday, July 21 meeting.
Among Hanson’s requests for the proposed project on 155 acres of property at the intersection of County Road 14 and Highway 287 were reimbursements for over-sizing water and sewer lines, with the amount increasing by 8 percent from the time installation begins.
By over-sizing the sewer line and running it from the Town’s wastewater treatment plant, rather than along the county road, it would open up the potential for future development on expanded Town boundaries, Hanson said. The exact size of the line that would be needed had not yet been determined, he added.
Hanson said that in addition to the cost of the larger pipe, there were many other associated expenses with over-sizing the utility lines, which he was asking the Town to pay.
“Right now, the agreement as I read it is very one-sided,” said Trustee Glen Buckingham. “All terms are benefiting the developer. We have to talk about retail components,” he remarked. “I’d like to see some quid pro quo.” The Board would look favorably on a retail plan, he noted.
The preliminary plan the Town Board approved in August 2007 included a provision for commercial development along with residential. The initial development plan, also approved at the same time, included 455 residential units, a neighborhood park and a site for a school.
Mayor Pro Tem David Gregg said, “The mechanism of reimbursement is the question.” Before moving forward, the board needs to discuss broader issues and develop a method or policy for the reimbursement process, he said.
Trustee Michael Patrick took issue with the 8 percent interest rate in the request, which he said could become cost-prohibitive for future developers. “There needs to be some balance there to allow people to use these utilities,” he said.
“This is a business deal,” said Trustee Dick Shepard. “We should be very aware of what we’re getting ourselves into.”
“I think our interim public works director and town attorney need to be involved,” said Trustee Jeff Hindman. He also suggested that the Board members submit their concerns about Hanson’s requests to Planner Tim Katers for review. Staff engineer Stephanie Brothers has been working with the O’Malley Glen developer regarding the utility plans.
Mayor Tom Patterson said he was “willing to stretch” to accommodate the requests. “It’s the only subdivision capable of moving forward now, he said.
“I think we’re going to have to get to the point where we have vested rights,” Buckingham said. The Town is going to have to get some value in terms of commitment, he added.