Council consider enterprise zone agreement

Concerns future Memorial Health site on east side of Urbana

By Joshua Keeran - [email protected]

The details of a proposed enterprise zone agreement involving the future site of a two-story, 30,000-square-foot medical ambulatory care building in the Urbana Commons Planned Unit Development on the east side of Urbana were presented to City Council during its Tuesday meeting.

The measure, introduced in the form of a resolution that underwent a first reading, seeks council’s approval of an enterprise zone agreement involving the city, Urbana MOB LLC (property owner) and Memorial Health of Union County (lessee).

Under the proposed agreement, Urbana MOB would receive a tax exemption of 75 percent for 10 years from the real property taxes resulting from real property improvements to the proposed construction site at the northwest corner of the East U.S. Route 36 and North Dugan Road intersection.

In its joint enterprise zone application to the city, Urbana MOB and Memorial Health estimated the total project investment to be between $9,993,000 and $10,703,000.

“Real estate taxes being paid right now on the agricultural land (proposed construction site) is $217.57 per half year,” said Marcia Bailey, economic development director for the Champaign Economic Partnership. “With this application, the private entity, Urbana MOB, would be responsible for real estate taxes. If it’s under the ownership of the hospital, there is no real estate taxes. Their taxes are exempt.

“So, with this agreement, we would have real estate taxes coming into the county, which we don’t have right at this time,” she added.

In addition, since the building will be located within the Urbana corporation limits, the city will be able to collect income taxes from the employees, Bailey said.

The enterprise zone agreement contains a job creation and retention provision that must be met by April 2018. The provision calls for Memorial Health to create 12 new full-time permanent jobs while retaining the 16 full-time positions currently located at the hospital system’s Memorial Primary Care | Urbana office on Scioto Street.

According to the enterprise zone application, if the tax exemption is provided, construction on the new medical facility is expected to begin during the first quarter of 2017 and be completed by the first quarter of 2018.

Rezoning issue introduced

Council heard the first reading of an ordinance amending the city’s official zoning map by rezoning a 34,543-square-foot, triangular-shaped parcel on the north end of Urbana from R-2 Medium Density Residential District to M-1 Manufacturing District.

The parcel, owned by J&J Champaign, is located directly behind JJ McKeever’s at 207 Bloomfield Ave. Community Development Manager Doug Crabill said the business has moved to a new location on East U.S. Route 36 and “their long-term plan is to vacate the property they have on Bloomfield Avenue.”

In reviewing the entire property, Crabill added, when the parcel in question was purchased by the company in the 1990s, it wasn’t rezoned for how it’s being used.

“It essentially is an extension now of McKeever Excavating. There is dirt piled and materials piled there or things like that, and there is part of a building built on it,” he said. “From a land use standpoint, it makes sense for it to be consistent with how it’s been used for 20-some years.

“If it was kept as a residential property, it would really have very little value. It doesn’t have frontage to any public street, and it doesn’t have utilities,” Crabill added.

Council was informed the parcel abuts residential properties on Talbot Avenue and some residents have expressed concerns over what the land may be used for in the future.

Crabill said that before the rezoning issue is voted upon, a public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. on Dec. 20 in municipal court chambers.

In other business:

•The city’s 2017 anticipated budget was approved by council and shows appropriations in all city funds totaling $16,894,734 in revenue and $16,773,451 in expenses.

The General Fund, included in the total budget appropriations, shows proposed revenue of $6,384,406 with expenses totaling $6,377,482.

“We are in the black by $6,942 (General Fund) for our 2017 budget,” Director of Finance Chris Boettcher said during a previous council meeting. “The money coming in is going right back out for services to the community.”

•Due to safety concerns over the deterioration of the training tower located at the rear of the municipal building, council authorized spending $8,550 to purchase an aluminum stair assembly that will be installed at the back of the building by the Howell Buildings Company to allow access into the building by employees of the police and fire divisions.

“Our proposal is to shut off access to the tower,” Director of Administration Kerry Brugger said. “In order to do that, this will create a temporary access to the upper level or patio from the parking lot.”

It was noted wood steps would have been a cheaper option, but Brugger said there’s an added benefit by going with the aluminum stairs.

“When we get ready to do whatever we end up doing with the tower, we can incorporate these steps into the next phase,” he said.

•Ball diamonds No. 6 and No. 9 at Melvin Miller Park will have new fencing for next season after council signed off on a request by administration to have the fencing replaced by Valley Fencing at a cost of $8,025.

“It’s a long time coming,” council member Doug Hoffman said. “The fence out there is in bad, bad shape, and it’s actually kind of a health hazard. It’s going to help make the park stay one of the gems here in town.”

•Crabill informed council that in year two of the City of Urbana Memorial Tree Program, 13 trees were planted this year, with the majority of them being placed at Oak Dale Cemetery.

“It’s a pretty successful program so far,” he said.

•Brugger confirmed the city’s compost facility has been closed for the season and city employees will conduct the final round of leaf pickup this week.

Concerns future Memorial Health site on east side of Urbana

By Joshua Keeran

[email protected]

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.