After an hour of discussion, the Plymouth Common Council voted NOT to add the Veterans Parkway Extension Project to the list of projects in the TIF Districts # 1 and # 3.
City Attorney Sean Surrisi presented two resolutions that would add the road extension to TIF Districts #1 and #3 as part of the projects required by state statute. Once the Redevelopment Commission determines a project favorable for TIF funds, adding the project to the list of projects requires support from the Board of Zoning Appeals to determine that the project fits into the Comprehensive Plan. If that happens then the City or Town Council must determine the plan is appropriate with the Comprehensive Plan. At that point the Redevelopment Commission would conduct a public hearing to finalize the addition to the TIF District project list.
The Plymouth Redevelopment Commission has been supportive of the project and the Plymouth Plan Commission determined the project fit in the City’s Comprehensive Plan. While the city council was also to determine the plan fit but after an hour of discussion with multiple speakers the city council motioned to add the project but the vote was two yes voted, Councilman Duane Culp and Greg Compton. The other five, Robert Listenberger, Jeff Houin, Don Ecker, Shiloh Milner and Randy Longanecker voted against.
After the City Attorney discussed the positive aspects of the plan, positive financing and support of the mayor, Clerk/Treasurer Jeanine Xaver asked about the annexation comment and when that would happen. The City Attorney said opening up the area promoted potential development in the area but noted utilities would not need to be extended until 3 years after annexation.
Councilman Don Ecker asked about maintenance of the road once complete and was told the city would handle the maintenance for their section, Oak Road west to Pine Road, while Marshal County would be responsible for their section from North Michigan Road to Oak Road. There was also a question on the round-a-bouts in the concept and Surrisi said those were drawings from 15 years ago and it would be up to the city on a round-a-bout at Pine Road.
Commissioner Mike Burroughs attended the meeting and discussed traffic on U.S. 30 and the state’s plan to make is a limited access highway in the future. He said the amount of hazardous waste that travels on 30 is surprisingy and last month when there was a fatal accident that semi traffic was traveling through the town, with Veterans Parkway they could have been detoured there keeping them out of the city.
Councilman Greg Compton said, “I think the extension has more opportunities for growth as far as industries.” He mentioned Pretzels Inc. and the INDOT facility and later in the meeting said he sees the project as an investment for growth of the city.
Laura Walls, Executive Director of the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation said the additional accessibility to US 30 and 31 are contributing factors with two local companies looking to expand in the proposed extension area. She said the project would also give semi traffic an alternative to get into the industrial parks.
Dave Miller from Vanco Development questioned which crossroads would be closed in the freeway project. He also said their company has 140 acres of industrial lots ranging from 2 acres lots to 70 acres with city utilities already available. Miller said, “I feel from a community standpoint that continuing Veterans Parkway is a good way to move traffic around.”
Councilman Robert Listenberger said, “I’ve talked to a lot of people the last couple of weeks, and it comes down to me as this is a nice project. It would be great to do but that’s what it is. That’s a million dollars and is it worth a million dollars. That’s the question.” He continued, “I feel like we have too many other things that could be more worthwhile at this time.” Listenberger said he believes it will happen eventually in Plymouth.
Councilman Jeff Houin too had lots of conversations with people about the project with lots of feedback. He said listening to the justification for the project seemed to be antidotal and not determined to be the best solution. He said, “It feels more like a justification after the project was presented rather than the reason for the project.” Houin also said at this time we don’t know what the plan is for US 30 freeway and how to accommodate it.
Councilman Duane Culp stated during the meeting, “I just feel, in this particular case, we need to get ahead of the game. I think we can get ahead of the game, move forward, have it designed and get it moving.” He also commented that they have had complaints in the city about semi traffic on Harrison and North Streets and this could eliminate that traffic.
When the mayor called for a vote only Culp and Compton voted to add Veterans Parkway to the TIF project lists while the remaining 5 members voted not to add the project to the lists.
With the city not adding this to the TIF list the County will have to make a determination if they want to move forward on their section or let the project die.