WILMINGTON — To ensure BrightFarms gets the full 10-year tax abatement as intended, county commissioners on Wednesday reset the clock for the Enterprise Zone Agreement to match the actual end of construction of the Davids Drive greenhouse.
For the hydroponic greenhouse project, local officials had approved a property tax abatement at a rate of 75 percent for 10 years on eligible property. Weather caused delays in construction and as a result the net effect would have been to shorten the term of the abatement by a year, said Clinton County Port Authority Executive Director Dan Evers.
Assistant Clinton County Prosecutor Andrew McCoy, who serves as legal counsel for the county, said there is no legal problem with adjusting the Enterprise Zone Agreement to reflect the intent of what the company bargained for and what local officials authorized.
The delay to the official start-up for the 10-year term of the abatement was not due to a lack of diligence or good faith, and adjusting the time schedule will result in neither more nor less than what was agreed to originally regarding the length of the tax abatement, McCoy said.
Evers said it’s not that unusual to need to amend an original tax abatement agreement due to factors beyond control.
At the Wilmington greenhouse, salad greens and herbs are grown and made available to grocers in the Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus region.
In fall 2018, a member of BrightFarms management told county and city officials that BrightFarms Inc. planned to double the size of its Wilmington greenhouse. That remains a planned future project, according to Evers.
At another commissioners meeting Wednesday, Main Street Wilmington’s co-directors elaborated on their request for the courthouse parking lot to be open for public parking on weekends and evenings for downtown special events.
Commissioners agreed with the request, and now it will be forwarded to the county sheriff for his approval.
In discussing the matter, Main Street Wilmington Co-Director Ruth Brindle said the six existing parking lots designated for the general public in the downtown are all on the west side of South Street (U.S. Route 68). The county courthouse parking lot is on the east side of the downtown.
“We get asked a lot about the parking lot at the courthouse,” Brindle told commissioners.
Downtown parking is always an issue when Main Street Wilmington, The Murphy Theatre, or the Clinton County Convention & Visitors Bureau hold an event, added Brindle.
Clinton County Administrator Mary Ann Haines Foland said she checked with the county’s property and liability insurance carrier and there are no issues and no added cost.
One of the existing public parking lots downtown is new. It’s on South Mulberry Street across from the trail head of the Luther Warren Peace Path bike trail.
Main Street Wilmington Co-Director Darcy Reynolds advised that the organization is in the process of buying new trash cans for the downtown.
She also said they are putting together a grant application for lodging tax funds that, if successful, will go toward benches and smoke receptacles in the downtown.
The current benches are in pretty bad shape all over downtown, said Reynolds.
A Clinton County Regional Planning Commission effort earlier this year for 22 new age-friendly benches was unsuccessful. That attempt was made through an AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) grant application.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.