By Nicole Hennessy
Avon homeowners who’ve experienced flooding for several years know that though Avon’s development continues to raise the bar for the city’s future, maintaining and building the infrastructure necessary to support this growth can be a slow process.
Stuck without easy access to sanitary sewers, a group of property owners in the area of Chester and Moore roads which owns eight parcels of land totaling 197 acres is asking the city to issue bonds to cover the initial costs of a sewer line extension project, estimated at $1.6 million.
Landowners representing more than 75 percent of the area’s acreage signed a petition asking the city to preform a voluntary property assessment with the idea the city would be reimbursed for the project over a period of up to 30 years through increased property taxes.
A diverse location within the city, the land in need of sewer access includes residential, industrial and commercial properties.
Typically in Avon, developers have been responsible for infrastructure improvements involved in the future development of their properties.
While the Finance Committee Dec. 3 listened to the plan, committee members reacted with a sense of apprehension to set this kind of precedent, fearing every neighborhood or group with an infrastructure problem will come knocking on City Hall’s door if the bond is issued.
The matter was ultimately tabled until March, the property owners asked to come back with alternate plans, such as potential buyers or developers agreeing to pay for part of the project.
The issue stems from an approximately 2,000-foot section of Chester Road that has to access sewers at a main line on Moore Road since closer pipes on Chester were installed too shallow.
“At this point, without this work, the individual’s properties are not developable because of a lack of available sewers,” said Richard Batt, who was representing Redwood Living – a branch of Redwood Communities Group and Redwood Acquisition LLC which builds single-story apartment homes in several states.
With a spreadsheet of all current and planned projects being undertaken within Avon, the city laid out its bottom line, which is a $15 million debt it can responsibly assume.
Finance Director Bill Logan said that in 2016 about $11 million or $12 million in notes will be issued to pay for planned projects on that spreadsheet.“Not everybody is in favor of this,” Mayor Bryan Jensen said of the city financing this project. “As long as I’ve been on council and been mayor, it’s not something that we normally do.”
He continued, telling Batt, “There’s interest in that property, in terms of people wanting to come in there to develop that. The developer usually is taking the risk, and then when they build on that, they get their money back, but you’re asking the home-owners to take a huge risk.”
At-large Councilwoman Tammy Holtzmeier went a step further, questioning what the benefit for all
taxpayers in Avon would be if the city were to back this project.
Scott Christman of Hunter International, a staffing firm, said he hopes to expand his business, and cannot do so until he can access sewers.
Pleading his case, he said that he employs and attracts high-earning individuals, while the big-box stores that get all the attention in Avon provide jobs at minimum or just above minimum wage.
Several residents also made it known that they do not support an increased property tax, while several others voiced frustration at not being able to sell their properties.
“Development is gonna generate a ton of revenue for this city, but it’s a gradual sort of climb to get there, so we have to pick and choose the … public-private partnership type projects that are gonna benefit the entire city,” Logan explained.