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Council approves two resolutions amending urban renewal plans

Newton City Council approved two resolutions April 21 amending the North Central and East-Mart urban renewal plans by unanimous votes.

The plan specifies upcoming projects and cost for the North Central Urban Renewal Area in conformance with Iowa law. The area was created in downtown Newton in 1987 in order to facilitate redevelopment, clear blighted areas and promote economic development.

The amendment cites anticipated bond projects in the district. The projects are being done in order to comply with a 2012 change in Iowa Code that mandated urban renewal plans specifically list all the projects and their costs.

The projects for the North Central Urban Renewal Area Plan and costs include:

• North Fourth Avenue roadway rehabilitation: Not to exceed $550,000

• North Second Avenue East roadway asphalt overlay: Not to exceed $235,000

• Infrastructure grant to MV Affordable Housing LLC for the benefit of the 53-unit senior housing complex proposed for the 200 block of North Fourth Avenue West: Not to exceed $160,000

• Environmental clean-up costs associated with the former city manufactured gas plant in the 200 block of North Fifth Avenue West: Not to exceed $110,000

• Demolition of the former Newton WaterWorks garage located at 216 N. Third Ave. W.: Not to exceed $90,000

• Main Street and Downtown design concepts including traffic patterns, parking and streetscape: Not to exceed $55,000

• Lining of a sanitary sewer main along the north side of the DMACC campus buildings: Not to exceed $40,000

The total cost of the projects will not exceed $1,240,000.

The reasoning behind amending the East-Mart Urban Renewal plan is to satisfy Iowa Code requirement for Urban Renewal plans to list their specific projects and cost.

In 2012, the Iowa General Assembly made several modifications to the urban renewal law, which is the part of Iowa Code that allows cities to create tax increment finance districts. The changes to the law greatly increased reporting requirements for TIF district information, in the interest of promoting transparency and clarity. The new law also placed restrictions on the use of TIF for public buildings and for pirating businesses from other nearby towns.

Additionally, the law placed new requirements on municipalities to specifically reference all TIF projects in urban renewal plans. For example, in the past, cities could have a specific goal, such as the recruitment of hotels, called out in its urban renewal plan. Now, the plan would have to be amended each time a hotel project is given incentives in order to specifically cite that project by name.

The East-Mart Economic Development Area was created on the east side of Newton in 2007 in order to facilitate the establishing of Springboard Engineering. A 10-year partial property tax rebate agreement was approved for Springboard and was subsequently modified to acknowledge the merger into Underwriters Laboratories Verification Services.

The proposed amendment to the East-Mart Urban Renewal Plan now identifies the costs of two proposed bonding projects. These projects are a sanitary sewer main extension project to better serve the northern UL facility and surrounding area, with a cost not to exceed $285,000, and the TIF portion of the project to rehabilitate East 31st Street North roadway, with a contribution not to exceed $20,000.

Staff writer Zach Johnson may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at

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