Business & Development, City & Government, Springfield

Springfield moves along tax program for housing

SPRINGFIELD – Earlier this week, the City moved along with its plan to implement a property tax exemption for multiple-unit housing to incentivize development of more diverse housing and address Springfield’s lack of housing choice. 

Council has been considering developing the Housing Diversity Tax Exemption (HDTE) since 2017, according to housing analyst Katie Caroll.

More recently, council received public comment during the March 4 public hearing and first reading of the HDTE. Community members requested the City consider exempting new parking and new commercial improvements, and council directed staff to return with more information.

Staff presented to council during the April 15 work session to discuss the potential to allow:

–Parking exemptions for new residential parking

–Ground floor commercial space as a public benefit when fronting E. Main St.

–Commercial space as a public benefit with council approval

All three updates to the HDTE were approved by council and moved forward to the regular session that same night with the understanding that, per Mayor Sean VanGordon’s suggestion, the language in the tax exemption would be cleaned up. Assistant city attorney Kristina Kraaz said staff could definitely simplify and clarify the language.

In regular session, Phil Farrington, director of planning and real estate development for CDC Management Corp., commended City staff and council for working toward allowing exemptions for new parking and new commercial improvements. However, he still noted areas where more exemptions could be granted. An example Farrington shared regarded the parking exemptions for new residential parking. He said state legislation does not limit the City to solely providing this for new parking, which would be solely for new residents.

“I urge you to provide the greatest possible degree of flexibility in supporting future mixed-use development,” Farrington said.

VanGordon had questioned the requirements for parking to be solely new in the work session. Ultimately, assistant city attorney Kristina Kraaz said, “parking could be shared, but it has to be for residents in some manner.”

No decision to change this part of the HDTE or any suggestion for staff to collect more information about this was made prior to council moving onto other matters.

This past Monday’s discussion of the HDTE was the second out of three prospective readings. The next is tentatively scheduled for May 6.

Staff reminded council that the HDTE’s passing would repeal the vertical tax exemption program. And since the March 4 reading of the tax exemption, the City received an application for a vertical housing tax exemption for 448 Main St. Council decided to revisit this issue at a future council meeting.

ALSO: City manager Nancy Newton told council April 15 that she received notification that day that the FEMA emergency declaration was made on April 13. Councilor Joe Pishioneri questioned why the State did not address the individual assistance program in its request to FEMA; Newton was unsure at the meeting and said she would reach out to State partners to find out.

“We would always want to exhaust every opportunity to help our community,” Newton said.



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