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9/12/2018 5:59:00 PM
South Shore commuter communities eye Transit Development Districts

Andrew Steele, Times of Northwest Indiana

MERRILLVILLE — Nine Region municipalities have embarked on projects to map areas they believe they can best leverage state-created financial tools to support development around current and planned commuter rail stations.

A steering committee made up of representatives of each of the communities that either has a South Shore station or has one planned as part of the West Lake Corridor project, met for the second time Tuesday.

The committee links the communities to the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, which will administer the Transit Development Districts. 

The districts can initially cover one-half square mile and must include the associated South Shore station. Beyond that, the districts can include whatever properties the communities and RDA deem best for development.

Consultants advising the RDA and committee said the communities need to analyze property ownership, zoning and current plans for the future to determine the best TDD.

"Getting a handle on ownership, the current zoning and pipeline of projects are all things you need to consider when drawing the districts," said Oscar Bedolla of KPMG. 

They also need to balance development goals with the districts' expected revenue, which will consist of new property and income tax revenue generated after the districts' establishment. The incremental property tax revenue is similar to a traditional Tax Increment Financing District's; the TDDs have the added revenue of incremental local income tax revenue.

Each of the nine communities — Dyer, Munster, Hammond, East Chicago, Gary, Chesterton, Ogden Dunes, Michigan City and South Bend — will develop a map that must be approved by the RDA board of directors, and then by the Indiana State Budget Committee.

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