FLINT TWP. — Ramping up quickly in its first three meetings, the reactivated Economic Development Corporation has already pushed through a Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to address blighted and functionally obsolete properties in the township. It is now pondering the creation of a Downtown Development Authority to fund other needed community improvements
The township does not have a formal downtown but its abundance of commercial development qualifies it for DDA status.
The purpose of a DDA is to prevent or correct deterioration in a business district, encourage historic preservation and promote economic growth, said Anthony Chubb of McGraw Morris attorney’s office in Troy.
Chubb gave a presentation to the EDC explaining the process of setting up DDA and how it uses Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to generate revenues for economic development projects including beautification.
A TIF is a tool to finance development projects. TIF revenue is generated by an increase in taxable value on a parcel. For example, if improvements on a property with a $3 million taxable value increased it to $5 million in taxable value, the township would stand to get about $72,000 in tax increment revenue to devote to specified DDA projects.
The DDA would have specified boundaries such as from Ballenger Highway, west on the Miller Road corridor, north on Linden to Corunna then east back to Ballenger Highway, Chubb said, noting that is not set in stone and could be modified by the DDA board to suit its purposes. All district requirements would be spelled out by an ordinance approved by the township board of trustees.
It would be similar to a Central Business District Authority (CBDA) the township had until about ten years ago, said Tracey Tucker, building director and EDC administrator.
The CDBA was responsible for many improve- ments in the township including Manwaring and Fleckenstein roads, the back entrance to Genesee Valley Center mall and Dutcher Street, the new police station on Norko Drive and service drives on Miller Road.
“I enjoyed being on the CDBA,” said Donald Thompson, EDC chairperson. “Miller Road traffic was a mess. We cleared that up with service drives and widening. … I thought we did a lot of good things.”
Tucker said the CDBA expired after it became a “political football.” If it had been allowed to go dormant instead of expiring, it could be reactivated now without the need to go through the DDA creation process.
Supervisor Karyn Miller encouraged the EDC to think about establishing a DDA.
“The reason I asked (Chubb) to come and speak to you is because we have nothing now,” Miller said. She said she hoped the formal presentation would prevent critics from questioning her motives.
“As we speak, our commercial corridors continue to decay. I can’t snap my fingers and have a DDA set up.” she said, adding that she feels she has a duty to do something about it.
“I see this board as planting seeds and letting them grow on their own,” she said.
To get the community behind the DDA, it is important to help everyone to understand that the TIF revenue is being put back into improvements to increase the appeal of the district for everyone, Chubb said. DDA projects improve the taxable value of business on its outskirts but with no added expense to anyone, he said.
EDC members raised questions about how a DDA might conflict with the new Brownfield Development Authority and how the EDC board would dovetail with a Downtown Development Authority.
Chubb said the BRA vs. DDA eligible zones would need to be designated in advance. He said that some but not all members of the EDC could serve on the DDA. By law, the DDA has 8-12 members including the chief executive officer (township supervisor) and a majority of members who also have property interest in the DDA district.
Tucker said that based on Chubb’s presentation, she would develop a more finite proposal to bring to the next EDC meeting on June 14. If the EDC board decides to move forward with establishing a DDA, it would then send a recommendation to the township board of trustees.