Thursday, Mar. 23, 2023–1:08 p.m.
-David Crowder, WRGA News-
An issue that proved to be controversial in the past was brought up again during Wednesday’s Rome Redevelopment Committee meeting. However, none of the three committee members expressed any interest in revisiting the subject of the annexation of unincorporated islands into the city.
Committee chair Jim Bojo said that some commissioners have asked about annexation and he wanted to know if the committee wanted to start identifying potential properties to annex or did they just want to leave the issue alone.
Past efforts to annex the Celanese/Riverside area have been met with vocal opposition from many of the residents and officials with the Floyd County Board of Education, who feared a loss of state funding if they lost students in the area.
Commissioner Jamie Doss, who serves on the redevelopment committee, remembers those sometimes heated discussions.
“I went out there once and tried to pitch the idea,” Doss said. “We walked in and ran out….If we’re going to force annexation, that will make people unhappy,” he said. “That’s some of the reason why some people don’t trust any level of government.”
Commissioner Bonny Askew, who also serves on the committee, agreed with Doss.
“Honestly, I don’t like the idea of forcing,” Askew said.
The committee did agree that the best course would be to educate about the services offered by the city and other advantages of annexation.
“Maybe this is our fault, but I’m not sure that people truly understand the benefits of annexing into the city,” Bojo said. “Depending on who you talk to, there could be both pros and cons. You can go to Garden Lakes, and it’s kind of split 50-50 on the same street. I have a friend who lives in Garden Lakes who would love to annex, but if he does, he going to create an island. So, by law, he cannot annex. He’s older like I am, and his whole reason for wanting to annex is garbage pickup service.”
After more discussion, the committee agreed to take no further action.
New TAD redevelopment districts paused
The redevelopment committee also heard that plans for two new redevelopment areas proposed for the Martha Berry corridor and the North Broad Street corridor will be delayed.
According to Sammy Rich, the discussion has been to go on a parcel-by-parcel basis for Tax Allocation District funding, so that if someone wants to do a project, it had to stand on its own merits.
For instance, if someone wants to bring a new development inside the redevelopment area, if the parcel is worth $100,000 and something is built for $10,000,000, the incremental increase for that parcel is what would generate the revenue that the city would then return to the project instead of relying on revenue from all the parcels within the redevelopment area.
After speaking with their consultant with the KB Group on Tuesday, the decision was made to take a little more time.
“Based on that conversation, we probably need to tweak these drafts to make sure it’s absolutely clear what our intention is,” Rich told the committee. “We were hoping to not have to do that and that we could just keep moving forward with what we’ve got.”
Rich anticipates the issue to be resolved by the time the plans are presented to the Rome City Commission in April or May.