DeKALB – Commercial developers considering DeKalb County won’t find any enterprise zone incentives in the Harrison and John streets area.
Before any residents spoke during a public hearing at the DeKalb City Council meeting Monday, Mayor John Rey asked to remove the area from the map of DeKalb County’s potential enterprise zone. He cited mounting concerns from residents.
“My sense of the council’s attitude was it wasn’t worth the fight to continue engaging the John/Harrison street neighborhood in that enterprise zone at this juncture,” Rey said.
Enterprise zones are meant to encourage business and industrial development or expansion by offering state and local tax incentives in up to 15 square miles for as long as 25 years. Under the originally proposed map, developers would have received state incentives for commercial development on property on either side of John Street and a small portion on Harrison Street near Lincoln Highway.
The area is currently zoned multifamily residential. City Attorney Dean Frieders prefaced the public hearing by advising the enterprise zone does not change a property’s zoning or approve any projects. The State Enterprise Zone Board also would have to approve DeKalb County’s application before incentives could be offered.
Of the 50-or-so residents who packed City Council chambers, 10 spoke regarding the proposed enterprise zone. While many said they appreciated Rey’s preemptive move to exclude the area from the map, some questioned if the map would remain that way.
“I am maybe increasingly cynical in that, that doesn’t mean tomorrow or the next day or two weeks down the road,” resident Toni Heinze said. “So I would like to also ask the city to keep that area very carefully protected at this point in time and not be looking for another way of tearing down that area.”
DeKalb aldermen will vote on the proposed enterprise zone ordinance and intergovernmental agreement during the Nov. 10 council meeting.