River Gate South concept_1The decision to award a tax abatement to the River Gate South residential development on South Michigan Street in downtown Plymouth will have to wait until the next City Council meeting on December 11th.

Monday night the Plymouth Common Council conducted a public hearing on the request.  City Attorney Sean Surrisi said developer Scott Savin was unable to attend the meeting.  He suggested conducting the public hearing to allow those who attended the meeting to voice their comments and then continue the meeting until December 11th so Mr. Savin could attend and answer any question.

Several citizens spoke during the public hearing.  Steve Guriel owns several rentals in town and asked if the council had ever granted a tax abatement to any other residential development.  He was told that no other project of this type and scope has ever asked.  He also asked about the length of the abatement and was told 6 years.

City Councilman Shawn Grobe said he was supportive of the project and said the tax abatement was an incentive that was discussed as one of the many parts to make the project successful.

Plymouth Color Logo2014Councilman Jeff Houin commented that the city isn’t giving money to the project but forgoing some tax revenue allowing the developer to phase in the taxes over time.

Councilman Gary Cook disagreed with Houin’s comments saying “In essence you are giving them money, tax payer dollars because you are delaying the property taxes they would be paying.”   He went on to say, “The Redevelopment Commission and through the council gave $1.5 million to the project and $1.5 million from the Regional Cities Initiative.  That’s $3 million of tax payer dollars for this project.”    He listed out more tax dollars that have gone into this project including the acquisition and demolition of the Cook/Dimmitt building, the acquisition and demolition of the gas station, acquisition of two additional homes, right-of-way assessments, property evaluations and more.  He said, “I think there have been enough tax dollars going towards this project.”

Councilman Duane Culp wanted those in attendance to know that while new tax dollars won’t be paid in the first year, during the second year new tax money will be coming in and in the 7th year all the taxes will be paid.

Mike Delp, a former city councilman said he was in full support of the project and the tax abatement.  He said the purchase of the Cook/Dimmit building was long before this project and noted how long it’s set.   He commented, “This $9 to $10 million project will add some vitality to our downtown.”   He also noted that he’s heard the need for this type of housing from major employers when he was on the city council.

Center Township Trustee Doug Kucerra wrote a letter requesting the city council reject the tax abatement noting that the project already has $3 million in taxpayer dollars.

Rex Crump, head of the Plymouth Housing Providers Association said the association isn’t in favor of the tax abatement.  He was also concerned with the rates that will be charged and felt they were out of line for the community.

Councilman Shawn Grobe reminded those in attendance that the developer is taking a lot of risk, investing about $7 million of his own money in the project.

The Plymouth city council adjourned the public meeting until their December 11th meeting.  At that meeting they will consider a resolution confirming the tax abatement.  It was noted that the public will be able to comment at the December 11th meeting too.