A plan to pay for parking around Westminster Station moved ahead Aug. 14 with a developer Sherman Associates agreeing to pay additional property taxes to pay for building and maintaining a garage there.
Councilors voted to a create a General …
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Councilors voted to a create a General Improvement District for the area, allowing the city to collect a tax rate of $50 per $1,000 of property value on properties in the district. The city can’t create the district itself, according to state law, but can approve it based on a petition from property owners.
City Attorney David Frankel said the district currently covers just the developer’s 4.1-acre property along Westminster Station Drive, west of Federal Boulevard and south of 71st Avenue. Sherman Associates is also involved in the redevelopment of Westminster Downtown, the multi-use project being constructed along 88th Avenue west of Sheridan Boulevard.
Future developers hoping to move on to the site can join the district rather having to provide parking for their project on-site.
“The only way that the district grows in the future is when other developers petition to include their property into the district,” Frankel said.
Both the parking garage and the district were called out in the Westminster Station Area Plan.
“The goal of this district is to support parking infrastructure and services that would allow the redevelopment of this area in a way that requiring parking on-site, in every parcel, would not allow,” Frankel said. “The goal here is to encourage more dense development, I think it’s fair to say, on properties that are smaller in size and would not necessarily have room for parking lots on their sites.”
But Councilor Bruce Baker said he was skeptical of the scheme, quizzing Frankel about whether the developer was promised anything by the city to get him to create the district.
“I have a very large problem,” Baker said. “Everything we are doing is legal, under the letter of the law. But my reading of the spirit and intent says this is not what the law is for.”
Baker said he interprets the law is meant to let groups of citizens tax themselves, not allow the city to organize a new taxing district.
“We have taken absolutely clever steps to have this private owner act in our stead for a purpose of our desire and choosing,” Baker said.
Frankel said there have been no incentives offered to Sherman Associates.
“And I believe this course of action will actually result in a substantially higher tax bill for the petitioner,” Frankel said.
Baker’s council colleague’s were not so concerned and voted to approve the district by a vote of 6-1.
“I disagree, and this is a wonderful use of the general improvement district,” Councilor Emma Pinter said. “The reason this is structured the way it is so that the landowner has an opportunity to vote and to have their voice heard. They are making a conscious decision to have these taxes on themselves. And if future landowners want to join -- and we suspect they will -- they too have the opportunity to do so.”
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