BY REBECCA PALMER
KAYSVILLE — City leaders are hoping to sell property on Flint Street for a commercial development that they would help subsidize, but about 70 people showed up at a public meeting Tuesday to protest the plan.
The developer in question is likely to be state Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams, who is operating as Terra Basin.
The Tuesday meeting was the most recent episode in a long-standing controversy regarding the property, which is located near 200 North and Flint Street. The city bought it with money from the electric utility fund years ago as a way to prevent a commercial developer from building. Now, since a development attempt on Angel Street never materialized, the city council wants to see shops and, most likely, a new grocery store on Flint.
Most of the people who attended the meeting were opposed to the plan, and several told the council their thoughts. Many were concerned that a new grocery store would harm the Bowman’s Market on the east side of the city.
“It seems to me the city is attempting to rob Peter to pay Paul by installing more businesses which will compete against existing businesses for Kaysville dollars,” community activist Orwen Draney said, adding that Kaysville already has many empty storefronts.
Others railed against the city council, saying it was wrong to violate agreements the city made in 2004 and 2005 regarding the property.
Nevertheless, the council voted unanimously.
Acting as the Kaysville redevelopment agency board, they agreed on Tuesday to put the property into a community development project area.
In such areas, an agreement can be made between the city and other entities that receive property tax revenues such that revenues continue to be collected at current levels, but after a given date, the increase in revenues goes to a special city fund for 10 or 15 years. Often, tax monies in that fund are returned to the developer or used to benefit the project to improve landscaping or utility connections. In some cases, cities take out loans against the expected property tax revenues and give the proceeds to the developer.
No such decisions have yet been penned, but city councilmember Gil Miller said they are on the table.
So far, the city’s only agreement has been with Terra Basin, said city manager John Thacker. Adams has until August to research the project and try to find retail tenants, and then has the option to purchase the land and formalize development plans. Then, the city would agree to incentives made possible through its redevelopment agency.
During more than three hours of meetings on Tuesday, city leaders said that no developer was in place and failed to mention Adams’ involvement. No one from Terra Basin was at the meeting.
While most people who addressed the council spoke in opposition to the plans for development, retired commercial real estate appraiser Clark Richardson questioned the tax-increment deal itself. Such deals are commonly called RDAs.
“Over the years I’ve very much struggled with the moral correctness of how the RDA process works,” he said. “Is giving a property owner tax breaks for ten plus or minus years, is that not allowing government to, in effect, pick winners and losers?”
After the meeting, Richardson acknowledged that developers in these agreements still have to pay property taxes, but said that because those monies are often returned to them as incentives, it amounts to the same thing as a tax break.
Before any incentive agreements are made between Kaysville and Adams or any other developer, entities such as the county and school district would have to agree to give up their future revenues.
Kaysville’s only other tax-increment area encompasses Bowman’s Market, but neither the grocer nor any other business there has made deals with the city.
CLARIFICATION: The city's agreement with Adams and his company have been discussed and approved in public meetings, and many of the Tuesday meeting's attendees were Boy Scouts, not necessarily protesters. See these Clipper articles for more information on Kaysville's development effort: here and here.