Warehouse incentives delayed again

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HANCOCK COUNTY – Before taking final consideration on a tax break, officials want a developer to come to a consensus with residents living near a site where warehouses are proposed.

Logistics Realty Capital, LLC, based in Smithville, Missouri, wants to develop a building about 575,000 square feet and another 300,000 square feet on nearly 70 acres in Hancock County north of I-70, south of West CR 200N, west of Buck Creek Road and east of the Marion County line. Estimated at $68 million, the buildings are planned on speculation for logistical/e-commerce purposes.

Final consideration of a tax abatement for the buildings was on the Hancock County Council’s agenda earlier this month, but unresolved issues that date back nearly a year between the developer and residents who live near the site prompted officials to continue the matter to October.

The council voted in favor of the tax abatement when it was first introduced late last year. The Hancock County Commissioners approved economic development agreements for both proposed buildings in April. Those agreements outline the tax abatements, which call for gradually phasing in real property taxes on the projects over the course of 10 years. The documents also estimate over $3.8 million in property taxes from the buildings throughout the abatement period and the same amount in economic development payments to the county.

Tim and Shani Williams, who operate an event venue and construction company on property they also live on in Marion County right across from the site, want Logistics Realty Capital to agree to bolstered buffering between them and the proposed warehouses.

At the recent Hancock County Council meeting, Shani Williams pointed to the minutes of a November 2021 county commissioners meeting that representatives of Logistics Realty Capital attended. The minutes reflect the company was communicating with residents and made concessions to its plans but that commissioners still had concerns over landscaping and lighting they wanted addressed before the tax abatement was entertained.

Shani Williams went on to note that Logistics Realty Capital was not slated to appear at the next two commissioners meetings in November. She added she was surprised to learn the company appeared before the county council in December and received a favorable vote on the tax abatement upon its introduction. That vote went 5-1, with council members Bill Bolander, Jeannine Gray, Robin Lowder, Mary Noe and Jim Shelby opting in favor and Keely Butrum voting against. Kent Fisk was absent.

John Jessup, president of the county commissioners, said at the recent council meeting that he remembered discussions about buffering between the site and the Williamses’ property, but could not recall if they were resolved.

“LRC needs to come back and they need to provide the concessions that were requested,” Williams said. “The commissioners need to hold their ground and abide by the commitments that they made in that meeting and this council needs to vote ‘no’ on that tax abatement until conditions are met.”

Briane House, a partner with Pritzke & Davis, a Greenfield-based law firm representing Logistics Realty Capital, said he would discuss the matter with his client.

Mary Noe, a county council member, moved to table the final vote on the tax abatement to the council’s Oct. 12 meeting to provide time for residents, the developer and county commissioners to come to a consensus on berm heights, setbacks, lighting and other matters. That meeting starts at 8:30 a.m. at the Hancock County Courthouse Annex, 111 American Legion Place, Greenfield. The council approved the motion unanimously.

“That location has been a hot location, a hot point for some time because of its proximity to residential areas on the Marion County side, which, to me, it really doesn’t matter which side of the county it’s on, it’s the fact that those homes are there, and they’ve been there, and they’re established, and I want to see that this project will be as best a neighbor it can possibly be, or I’m not supportive of it,” Noe said.

Noe noted some of the concessions sought include a 24-foot maximum building height, 150-foot building setback, a 12-foot berm with 6-foot trees and locating truck docks in areas that don’t face residences. House and even Noe acknowledged some of the requests would be difficult to achieve.

Officials also addressed rumors that Logistics Realty Capital is seeking another developer to take over the project. Jessup and House said the company is sticking with the endeavor.

“There has been a great deal of discussion … but the fact of the matter is, to resolve that discussion, Logistics Realty Capital is going forward and will be developing,” House said.

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