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Advisory board for Bryan TIF on hold

Advisory board for Bryan TIF on hold

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The Bryan City Council postponed plans Tuesday to appoint a nine-member advisory board that will oversee spending and construction in an upcoming private-public development.

The city has agreed to designate the 122-acre zone where the development will take place as a tax increment financing district, or TIF. Property taxes generated over a 20-year period in the designated area will go toward reimbursing the city's expenses on development within that zone.

The TIF advisory board will develop over several months a project and financial plan for the zone, which is off William Joel Bryan Parkway and Villa Maria Road. The plan will be presented to the City Council for adoption when it is complete.

Councilman Mark Conlee asked in a meeting Tuesday that the TIF advisory board appointments be postponed to a council meeting in January, so plenty of time can be spent determining who will serve on the board.

The city can designate five members to the board, one of which may be a representative from Burton Creek Development Limited, the group of investors that petitioned Bryan to approve the TIF.

State Rep. Fred Brown and State Sen. Steve Ogden also may name one appointee each, and neither has yet submitted a nominee, City Manager Mary Kaye Moore said Tuesday.

The other two board members will represent the county and the school district. Brazos County Commissioner Duane Peters and Bryan schools Chief Financial Officer Amy Drozd have been selected by their respective organizations as appointees.

Peters and Drozd also serve on the board that oversees Bryan's TIF in the Park Hudson business district.

The new TIF zone begins at the intersection of West Briargate Drive and William Joel Bryan Parkway and extends to Villa Maria Road. Portions of Broadmoor, Debbie and Red River drives also are included, as is the entrance to the post office property on William Joel Bryan.

Burton Creek Limited is proposing a senior citizen-restricted residential development off Broadmoor Drive, surrounded by office and retail development. The group's attorney, Chris Peterson, has said about $100 million in property value eventually will be added.

Peterson is the president of the Bryan school board and a member of the City Council-appointed Bryan Business Council.

Councilman Conlee, who cast the only vote opposing participation in the TIF, said that if Bryan does enter into an agreement with a private developer, he wants to make sure the board that oversees the development carefully is selected.

The city has been asked to issue about $5.6 million in debt for such public amenities as a senior citizens center, a walking trail system, utility relocation and construction of a new roadway.

Involvement in the TIF is an investment risk for the city, which would have to dip into the general fund to pay off debt if the development doesn't generate the expected tax revenue.

Mayor Ernie Wentrcek emphasized Tuesday that by designating the zone, Bryan is not committing any funds.

"In reality, what we have is a multi-month process," Wentrcek said. "At no time has the council [committed] the city to any type of financial obligation. That could be months down the road."

With the exception of Realtor Jenny Black, who signs documents as the general partner of Burton Creek Development Limited, Conlee pointed out that little information has been made available about the project's investors and their financial background.

"I think we're moving way too fast without enough information," he said. "We don't know who the players are and if they have the financial responsibility to live up to their part."

Wentrcek said the TIF advisory board will be tasked with seeking that information and with presenting a plan, along with cost estimates, to the council for adoption.

"I support moving forward with the motion because it allows us to continue the process and gather more information," Wentrcek said during Tuesday's council meeting.

David Storrie, Bryan's housing and economic development program administrator, said it didn't make sense for the developers to reveal information about themselves before the designation of the TIF zone, but he expects it now will be forthcoming.

"They weren't in a position where they had to [release information] before the designation of the zone," Storrie said after the council meeting. "Now if they want the council to support their plan, they're probably going to have to [release that information]."

• April Avison's e-mail address is april.avison@theeagle.com.

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