Advisory council to oversee downtown development

FORTVILLE — Officials are taking steps to ensure downtown Fortville maintains its small-town character as representatives work to attract business development to the community.

The Fortville Town Council is forming a design and review committee comprised of business owners and residents that will oversee development of a new business district along a 2-mile stretch of Broadway Street, which members of the council approved in April.

The new area, a tax-increment financing, or TIF, district, would utilize property taxes collected from businesses in the district to promote economic development and pay for town improvement projects.

Members of the town council hope forming a committee in advance of new development will ensure projects in the area align with the community’s small-town atmosphere.

Town council members hope to recruit nine participants for the committee, including one representative from the town council, the redevelopment commission, the police department, the Vernon Township fire department and someone from either the Fortville-Vernon Township Public Library or Mt. Vernon School Corp. Members also want to include two town residents and two local business owners, town council member Tim Hexamer said.

Residents who want to join the committee should submit letters of interest to the town council. Letters may be dropped off at Fortville Town Hall, 714 E. Broadway St., between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays until June 20.

The district, which is awaiting final approval from the Fortville Redevelopment Commission, measures approximately 220 acres and spans more than 2 miles along Broadway Street. The project calls for a major redesign of the downtown area, which officials estimate would cost the town between $6 and $9 million — a sum that could be generated by property taxes collected from businesses in the new district.

It’s one of two TIF districts expected to be proposed this year. Next month, the Fortville Redevelopment Commission plans to pitch another district that will stretch from West County Road 1000N to State Road 234, including land from many properties along Fortville Pike.

Members want to make sure downtown Fortville maintains its charm, even as new development moves in, town council member Lenzy Hendrix said.

With representatives from key stakeholders in the community, the committee will act as a safeguard, Hexamer said.

Burns Gutzwiller, president of the town’s redevelopment commission, said all proposals for new development will be presented to residents through organized public outreach meetings. Plans would also require approval from the town council.

At the redevelopment commission’s next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. May 19 at Fortville Town Hall, the redevelopment commission will open the floor to residents to comment on the proposed TIF district before casting a final vote on the proposal, Gutzwiller said.

Get involved

Fortville business owners and residents who want to join the a design and review committee to oversee downtown development should submit letters of interest to the town council. Letters may be dropped off at Fortville Town Hall, 714 E. Broadway St., between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday through June 20.

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Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or