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Enterprise zone could add incentives for new housing

Published: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 11:01 a.m. CDT

A zoning program may provide extra incentive for the housing development project in the Cottonwood Subdivision, but it will require quick action from the Union County Board of Supervisors and the developer to beat the June 30 deadline.

The program allows the county to establish an area as an enterprise zone for housing or business development. Even though the Cottonwood Subdivision is within Creston city limits, the way the program is set up through the state requires the county’s governing body to establish the enterprise zone.

“We are trying to bring the developer and the county together,” said Wayne Pantini, executive director for Union County Development Association. “This would add tax revenue and provide additional housing by utilizing a piece of property that is currently not bringing in any tax dollars.”

To set up the enterprise zone, supervisors would designate about 45 acres in the Cottonwood Subdivision and it would go to the state for approval. Then the developer could apply for tax credits and reimbursements from the state.

“Once he makes application (for the benefits) we would engage an enterprise zone commission made up of volunteers appointed by the county,” Pantini said. “The commission only meets as needed. I would review the project with them and once the commission approves the benefits, it goes back to the state for final approval.”

The proposed project would bring new condominium housing to Creston. The developer — Don Sonntag — wants to build at least 14 condominiums in the subdivision.

Only 1 percent of a county can be in an enterprise zone. Of Union County’s 272,449 acres, 987 acres are in the program.

“The city of Lorimor and Afton are currently under enterprise zones,” said Pantini. “That way if a project comes up, we have the option to use the program.”

The enterprise zone lasts for 10 years and has been used in Union County to help with the Iowana project and the apartments near Walmart.

Approaching deadline

Supervisors and Sonntag must act before the June 30 deadline because new legislation would restrict enterprise zones from developing on “green fields” or undeveloped property.

“We know there is a need for more housing and this is a good place to do it,” said Union County Board of Supervisors Chairman Dennis Brown. “We are not going to be a road block by any means, but everything has to go through the step-by-step process to make sure it is done correctly.”

The current legislation encourages building housing in downtown locations with upper story apartments.

The program also uses new figures from the 2010 Census. Union County will still qualify for housing, but will no longer be able to apply for business development under the enterprise program.

The current legislation would also not use zones. The county would apply for the program for a specific project.

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