2012-09-27 / Front Page

Will the Village of Sebewaing have a DDA?

Staff Writer • 810-452-2668 • jbonke@mihomepaper.com

Shown here is a preliminary map with parcels proposed for a downtown development authority in yellow. 
Courtesy photo Shown here is a preliminary map with parcels proposed for a downtown development authority in yellow. Courtesy photo SEBEWAING - The Village of Sebewaing is looking into forming a downtown development authority (DDA) and a tax increment financing authority (TIFA). The topic was discussed at a meeting attended by about 50 residents. Several voiced their opinion - and the sentiments were mixed. Those in attendance ranged in age from their early 20s on up.

In addition to the village council, Huron County Economic Development Corporation Director Carl Osentoski was present. He explained the basics of a DDA and a TIFA and fielded several questions from those who attended. He also provided handouts summarizing Public Act 197 of 1975, which established DDAs as well as one on TIFAs, which noted their start as PA 450 of 1980.

A DDA would be an area of the village designated by a map, in which included parcels need to form a contiguous unit. A map of a proposed Sebewaing DDA was displayed on an easel at the meeting. The overall purpose of a DDA would be to enhance public infrastructure. How that would be accomplished, and what would be done, would be decided by a governing body of 8 to 12 members, which would be an arm of the village council, with the Chamber of Commerce handling marketing aspects. The members of the governing body would be folks who own a business or have a business interest in the DDA. The village council would have the final say on any plan.

Examples of projects Osentoski mentioned as possibilities were sidewalks, bike trails, library-related improvements, physical re-development, parks, street lighting, parking and restrooms.

Residents seemed to agree that something needs to be done to revive the downtown district, but weren’t in agreement on how to go about it.

Those who spoke out against the effort felt that a DDA would merely add another layer of government by the addition of the DDA’s governing body. Also, some who own homes in the proposed DDA said they might not benefit as much as business property owners.

Others speaking out against a DDA wanted to see a plan first and then decide whether to proceed. Osentoski said the HCEDC would help develop any plan, but it could only do so if invited in by the community.

Osentoski said that DDAs can be financed from increases in value of the properties in the designated area. Any increase in value from the year of a DDA’s inception would be “captured” by the DDA to be used for its projects. However, monies designated for local schools, for example, would still go to the local schools. Some other taxing jurisdictions could claim an exemption and would have 60 days to do so.

The main point of agreement during the meeting was for the Village Council not to use the finance option of levying two-mills for a DDA. Members of the council said they did not want to use this option.

Those in favor of going ahead with a DDA expressed their concern that something needs to be done rather than nothing being done as the downtown sets idle. Many noted the exceptional natural resources in the area such as camping, hunting, fishing and boating. They also noted that Sebewaing is a place for folks visiting the Thumb to stop and eat and get gas and other supplies. Other ideas mentioned were a farmer’s market and restaurants. One resident in attendance wondered if the village could receive low-interest loans and then re-loan them to someone who needed funding for a business venture.

At the conclusion of the meeting, President Paul Engelhardt thanked everyone for their attendance and input. The matter went to council for its deliberation and decision.

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