WATERLOO — Waterloo can tell you just about anything you want to know about the town’s planned annexation.
Town Manager Tena Woenker and Kristi Sturtz of Sturtz Public Management Group hosted two required public outreach meetings Friday at the Waterloo-Grant Township Public Library, and they will hold a third Monday at 5 p.m., also at the library.
The meetings are meant to give residents or property owners in the area to be annexed west of Interstate 69 a chance to give input or ask questions before the process moves forward.
The process already has started, with the DeKalb County commissioners giving the town permission to extend its Tax Increment Financing district to cover the area to be annexed prior to the actual annexation.
“Part of the reason why we’re trying to get ahead of that is there is development occurring, and they want to be able to capitalize on the increased value, and be able to use those funds as they move forward,” Sturtz said. “At the end of the day, it’s best the area is within the town’s boundaries as they work for future growth.”
One of the key developments is a large travel plaza planned at the I-69 and U.S. 6 intersection by American Petroleum of Middlebury. The TIF expansion allows the town to put funds it already has toward the extension of water service to that area, and American Petroleum has pledged money to help with the project.
American Petroleum originally said it would make a one-time gift of $250,000, but now will likely have a fixed-payment plan to donate the funds, Woenker said.
“To me, this is sensible, because they’re developing it, their taxes go into the TIF, it offsets their investment,” Woenker said. “It helps us get it done faster, and it means other property owners will not have to pay additional connection fees. They would just pay the normal connection fees to our utilities.”
The extension of the water line to American Petroleum is planned for this summer. The rest will be phased in over three years. Sanitary sewers already reach to American Petroleum and will be completed over the next three years at an estimated cost of $255,000.
The annexation, meanwhile, will continue to move forward. A petition for annexation will be submitted to the Waterloo Town Council Tuesday. A presentation on the fiscal plan for the annexation will be made, and a resolution to adopt the fiscal plan will be introduced, Sturtz said.
If the council votes to approve the resolution, the ordinance for annexation would be introduced. Notice would then be sent to owners of property in the annexation area and the surrounding area by certified mail, telling them a public hearing will be held a minimum of 60 days after the introduction of the ordinance.
Woenker said the Waterloo Redevelopment Commission will review the Economic Development Area plan, then will present it to the Waterloo Plan Commission March 20. The plan explains the town’s reasons for wanting the expanded TIF district as well as outlining street projects and water projects that will need to be done.
“That incremental increase in value that we know is occurring, it will enable the town to capture that increase moving forward,” Sturtz said. “That will help pay for the sewer and water extensions.
“The annexation helps with growth and development, but it also helps provide assessed value overall so the town can better serve the area. For example, they need another police officer. It can help fund those types of things.”
Officers will likely need additional training to cover new responsibilities dealing with the interstate, Woenker added.
The public hearing for the annexation would likely occur in May. The town then would be required to wait 30-60 days to adopt the annexation ordinance.
From there, property owners would be notified again, starting a 90-day remonstrance period. During that time, property owners could file a remonstrance with the county auditor’s office, which could send the issue to court or have the process stopped.
If no remonstrance is filed in the 90-day period, the ordinance would become effective at the date specified in the ordinance, which Sturtz said would likely be the end of 2017.
The annexation area covers 231 acres. It has one residential, two commercial and three industrial buildings. Current uses are agricultural, commercial and industrial.
Once the town annexes the area, General Business, Light Industry and Heavy Industry will be the zoning districts.