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City discussing developers pact

BY CORIANNE EGAN cegan@paducahsun.com

Paducah will look into its incentive agreements with local developers in the coming months, a move that could drastically affect development. 

The City Commission and Planning Director Steve Ervin reviewed the annexation and in-fill agreement ordinances during Tuesday's commission meeting. The agreements, which essentially reimburse developers for the construction of streets, gutters and other infrastructure, used to be for five years, but developers have consistently asked for longer periods. The latest in-fill agreement request, for Higdon Development's second phase of its Lakewood Villas neighborhood, is requested for a 10 year period.

Ervin asked the commission for guidance Tuesday, noting that the ordinances on file don't outline how many years an agreement should be for or defined protocol when going through the process.

Commissioner Carol Gault said the one-size-fits-all formula may not work for developers in the city.

"It's like trying to fit everyone into a size 5 shoe," Gault said. "It's just not going to work. There could be different ways to do it, like with a formula that includes infrastructure costs."

Higdon Development's Phil Higdon noted that other communities give better incentives, and added that his company will not be building the Lakewood Villas extension without the 10 year term on its incentives. Higdon and son Phillip took to the podium to explain their dilemma.

"We can't be paid back more than we invest," Phillip Higdon, Phil Higdon's son, told commissioners. "There's incentive there, but it's also protection for us in case the market were to change."

The tax money that is given back to the developer never surpasses the amount it paid to construct the municipal facilities. It is only allowable when the construction costs of those roads, gutters or infrastructure top $100,000.

The commission asked Ervin to compare Paducah's incentives with other cities nearby, and after review they will amend the ordinance to be more specific.

"We always want to create an atmosphere where folks want to live in the city, and we want a policy that supports developers and growth in the city, but balances costs also," Commissioner Richard Abraham said.

In other business, Judge Chris Hollowell used the beginning of the meeting to swear in three new Paducah police officers. Zachary Price, Kevin Wilson and Matthew Hopp all took their oaths and will begin training immediately.

Commissioners also went into a 40-minute executive session to discuss potential litigation.

Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.

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