‘Project Green’ moves forward in West Jefferson

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Messenger photo by Sandi Latimer West Jefferson Village Council members elected in November take a ceremonial oath of office prior to the start of the Jan. 8 council meeting: (from left) new member Ray Martin and re-elected members Cory Coburn, Randy Otis and Steve Johnston. Council leaders Ron Garver and Johnston were retained as president and vice president.
Messenger photo by Sandi Latimer
West Jefferson Village Council members elected in November take a ceremonial oath of office prior to the start of the Jan. 8 council meeting: (from left) new member Ray Martin and re-elected members Cory Coburn, Randy Otis and Steve Johnston. Council leaders Ron Garver and Johnston were retained as president and vice president.

By Sandi Latimer, Madison Editor

West Jefferson is beginning plans to welcome another tenant to the business park at State Route 29 and U.S. Route 40.

On Jan. 8, council approved legislation to amend the Community Reinvestment Act and authorized a tax exemption to allow construction of buildings and remodeling of existing structures for a development at the park known as “Project Green.” The actual name of the business has not yet been released.

The land is located east of where Ace Hardware is building a warehouse. The tenant will receive a 100 percent tax abatement for 15 years.

The legislation passed as an emergency measure, meaning work can progress immediately rather than after the usual 30-day wait, said Council President Ron Garver. Under normal conditions, the ordinance would have to go through a second reading at a subsequent meeting before coming to a vote.

“Emergency status allows us to get the paperwork processed so we can get the tenant signed,” said Art Makris, a vice president for Duke Realty, the developer of much of the land in the area along and adjacent to State Route 29 from I-70 and along U.S. Route 40.

Makris said the Project Green plans are to erect a 500,000-square-foot building that could be in operation by Aug. 1. The ordinance identified the proposed work at the site to be “a commerce center including, but not limited to, distribution warehouse buildings together with related site improvements.” The building would be “for general office use and global e-commerce fulfillment,” according to the resolution.

Makris said he hopes to have an agreement with the proposed tenant signed by Jan. 20 so they can go to the Planning and Zoning Commission Jan. 22 with rezoning requests.

Mayor Darlene Steele affirmed that the proposed tenant is not associated with its neighbor, Ace Hardware.

Tax revenue questions

On another issue, council members raised questions concerning the tax rates and estimated tax revenues the village would receive for 2014 and requested a hearing through the Madison County Budget Commission.

County Auditor Jennifer Hunter estimated the village’s total valuation to be $96,159,740 and that, according to a formula calculated in the 1930s, the village would receive 1 mill of that amount or $96,160.

Council members questioned the use of a formula some 80 years old, as well as the payment status of businesses such as Target and Battelle.

“If you have questions, you don’t have to accept the auditor’s report, but you can request a hearing before the Budget Commission,” said Jack Herrel, West Jefferson’s finance director.

Instead of approving the resolution, council voted to table it until after a hearing.

Police officers get new uniforms

Police officers who attended the council meeting modeled the department’s new uniforms. Replacing gray uniforms are navy blue trousers and shirts with reflector strips to make them more visible at night.

Officers say many neighboring departments have gone to the navy blue uniforms, and they can receive orders for these much more quickly than they could the gray ones.

The next council meeting will be Jan. 20 at 7 p.m., preceded by the Ralph S. Parsons Hall of Fame induction ceremony at 6:30 p.m. in the lobby of the administration building.

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