City Council Discusses Economic Development Opportunities


Published on June 19 2012 8:33 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 12:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Effingham city council members Tuesday discussed several economic development opportunities.

The Council gave informal approval to a planned relocation of Nuxoll Food Center on the city's south end.  The long-time grocery store would move from their current location near South Side School to a building to be constructed on the south end of the former Fedders parking lot along South Banker now owned by the City.

A 5,000 square foot building would be constructed and 25,600 square feet of space including parking would be utilized.  $96,000 in infrastructure work is anticipated, with the City covering just under $70,000 of that amount.  However, the reimbursement wouldn't take place until the project is in operation at the new location.

Mayor Merv Gillenwater spoke for the Council in seeing an opportunity to assist an existing business and spruce up that area of town.

The Council also heard that developer Todd Kabbes wants to extend infrastructure improvements to the property along Ford Avenue in front of Kohl's Department Store.  Kabbes is seeking to make $290,000 in improvements.  The project is located in the special service area created when Kohl's came to town, meaning Kabbes would receive an additional 1% sales tax from any commercial operations that locate there above the 1% that the City would realize.

There was also discussion of extending the life of the TIF Rehabilitation Program.  The program has involved making $150,000 available each year that business owners or operators could use to make improvements to their buildings.  TIF Administrator Todd Hull explained that in the past, a developer could receive $50,000 or a 50/50 match of what they invested on the project, whichever is smaller. 

Council members were receptive to extending the program, which has until now been offered only in the Central TIF District, basically involving the downtown area.  Commissioner Brian Milleville didn't see a need to extend the program to the TIF #1 District that includes the northwest part of town, saying he wasn't aware of any blighted areas there.  He did see some merit to extending the program to the South Central Industrial TIF District, which runs along South Banker. 

The Council also saw no problem with authorizing a temporary use permit of property on the south end of the City Business Park, so ADM can begin work on an expansion of their facility on Niccum Avenue.  The expansion will eventually lead to the relocation of ADM's operation from along the CSX Railroad tracks next to Homewood Subdivision to the expanded facility.

Each of those items will be back on a future Council agenda for final votes of approval.

The Council agreed to annex the Koester Farm along West Evergreen Avenue between Keller Drive and Outer Belt West into the City, meaning the entire tract can be marketed as being within the City limits.  Also approved was a pavement marking program around town, a traffic signal service agreement, another extension of the completion deadline on the water treatment plant expansion project, and a project to repair the portion of Route 40 damaged by failures of a sewer force main.  Also approved was emergency road repairs to Fayette Avenue near Maple Street due to a water main break.

After much discussion, Council members agreed to let the County have jurisdiction over development of two tracts of land totaling 120 acres between Nazarene Church Road and Lake Sara Road.  Some of the property is in County jurisdiction and some is in the City's extra-territorial jurisdiction.  City Director of Public Works Steve Miller said County standards are similar to City standards and didn't anticipate problems should the development ever come under the City's jurisdiction.

The Council heard from City Administrator Jim Arndt that he is working with Effingham County and several municipalities that could band together to buy power in bulk and get better utility rates.  Arndt is also talking with Coles County and communities there to join in the effort.  The initiative would have to be approved by local residents and if it continues moving forward, a vote on the issue could come in the November election.

Arndt also gave the Council a fourth quarter fiscal status report.  More about that in a later story.