HOBART — The Plan Commission is looking to the future.

The panel on Thursday gave its support to the creation of a new tax increment financing (TIF) district and a new thoroughfare plan, both of which deal with matters that could occur in years to come.

City officials said there are many purposes for the creation of a new TIF district — attracting a convention center is one of them.

Establishing the TIF offers another economic development tool that could assist in bringing such a development to the city, said Denarie Kane, Hobart's director of development.

Without it, the city would be limited to tax abatement as the only incentive Hobart would have available to attract a convention center.

The TIF boundaries would include the U.S. 30 corridor and extend to 69th Avenue. The Silverstone property east of Mississippi Street is located within those boundaries. An analysis completed last year listed that as one of several sites in Lake County that could accommodate a convention center.

The TIF district would capture tax increment from new developments and increases in assessed value from properties within the TIF boundaries.

Kane said the TIF could begin collecting increment in 2021, and it could be several years before the district brings in significant funding.

Besides using TIF funding for the possible incentives, those dollars also could support a variety of projects that might occur during the next decade.

A list of proposed work is featured in a capital improvement plan that's associated with the new TIF.

Establishing a pedestrian bridge over U.S. 30 and creating relief roads to U.S. 30 are among the projects listed in the document.

Kane said if Hobart would need to acquire a right of way for any of the projects listed in the plan, TIF money could be used to purchase it.

In addition to the Plan Commission endorsing the TIF proposal, the Redevelopment Commission has given the matter initial support.

The proposal moves to the City Council for its consideration, and it will eventually head back to the RDC for a final vote.

A public hearing about the TIF is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 26 at City Hall.

As Hobart contemplates the new district, the city also is creating concepts for new roads and street enhancements that could occur over time in different areas of the municipality.

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That vision is featured in a proposed thoroughfare plan.

Some of the projects listed in the document could only be needed if new development occurs in certain areas, City Engineer Phil Gralik said.

In addition to showing developers Hobart's intention for future roads, the plan also can help the city acquire grant funding for street projects.

Several organizations that own and maintain high-quality natural areas in Hobart expressed concerns about some of the roads proposed in the plan.

They indicated the natural areas include rare plants and animals, and some future roads shown on the plan could have had a major effect on their properties.

As the commission gave the thoroughfare plan a favorable recommendation, the panel made several adjustments to the document based on the concerns from the organizations.

The plan now heads to the City Council, which will have the final vote on the matter.
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