On Tuesday morning, West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce CEO Claire Louder and several members of the Chamber attended the County Council Work Session at which two pieces of legislation affecting the Odenton Town Center were discussed. The first creates a tax increment financing (TIF) district that coincides with the Odenton Town Center boundaries. A TIF district allows increases in property taxes associated with development to be captured in a designated fund to finance needed infrastructure in an area – it does not involve any increase in tax rates for property owners beyond what they would ordinarily pay. Among the projects expected to be funded through the Odenton TIF are the garages at the MARC station, central to moving the long-planned transit oriented development there forward, road improvements, particularly in the Core and along MD170 and MD175, and possibly some pedestrian improvements. A final list of projects has not yet been identified.
The second bill is a necessary companion to the first. County law currently precludes property in a TIF district from taking advantage of county revitalization district incentives. As several property owners have developed their plans in the long-neglected North Odenton Commercial Revitalization District (fondly referred to as Boomtown) based on receiving revitalization tax incentives, it would be unconscionable to pull them midstream. The proposed legislation exempts Odenton from the preclusion of using the revitalization tax incentives in a TIF zone.
Why it matters: The heart of the Odenton Town Center is the development at the MARC station – it creates synergy with all the other development occurring in the area. Without its construction, there is not enough density to support the commercial development envisioned for Odenton. The MARC garages are a “public good” encouraging more people to ride the trains, and as such should be funded at least partially by public money, but those funds have not been forthcoming over the many years this project has been in the works. Without public funding, in this case tied to the successful development of Odenton, the transit oriented development is not financially feasible – the site does not support the level of commercial development that would be necessary to construct the garages privately.
For more information on the proposed TIF legislation and its impact, read Claire Louder’s Capital editorial Finally a Development District for Odenton.
Until then, good luck and good hunting.
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