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Peoria City Council hears details on proposed Distillery, Galena Road Industrial Park TIF districts

The Peoria City Council on Tuesday heard first readings on the proposed Distillery and Galena Road Industrial Park tax increment financing districts.
Joe Deacon
The Peoria City Council on Tuesday heard first readings on the proposed Distillery and Galena Road Industrial Park tax increment financing districts.

Peoria is on track to create two new tax increment financing districts aimed at facilitating economic growth, after language in one of the proposals was modified to address environmental concerns.

During a city council meeting that extended beyond three hours Tuesday, members received and filed first readings on ordinances establishing the Distillery TIF on the South Side and the Galena Road Industrial Park TIF along Illinois Route 29.

City Manager Patrick Urich said the Distillery TIF, which would encompass all of the industrial property on the South Side that isn’t already part of an existing TIF, includes wording to encourage environmental remediation and responsible industrial development.

“As we met with the some of the concerned citizens — and they participated from the very beginning when we had our joint review board meeting — we asked for some suggestions and some comments from them that we could add and incorporate into the TIF plan, and we did that in a number of different parts of this plan,” said Urich.

Groups such as the Sierra Club, Southside Community United for Change, and the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance have raised concerns about the possibility of BioUrja seeking TIF benefits for a carbon dioxide pipeline or a carbon sequestration facility.

“That made a world of difference, to be able to have discussions and the inclusion of language is so very greatly appreciated. Of course, we as the public are asking for more,” said Joyce Blumenshine of the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance, urging for additional considerations to protect residents in the area.

Peoria Mayor Rita Ali applauded a “shared governance” approach between the city staff and community groups in shaping the Distillery TIF ordinance. District 1 council member Denise Jackson said that served as an example of the need to work in collaboration toward protecting residents' interests.

“As the First District council member, I have stated that I feel that it is incumbent on that individual's role — not [just] here now, as well as in the future — to make sure that any additional suggestions and concerns that are raised with regards to the potential for a pipeline or sequestration of a CO2 pipeline be brought to our attention because, as the mayor has said, the safety of our community in our city is first and foremost in all matters,” said Jackson.

Urich said some of the suggestions made by the environmentalists would be better applied through other means than in a TIF ordinance.

“We felt, as city staff, that the language that we were putting in was appropriate for the language in the TIF plan. This is a financial document that directs how we're going to use our financing tool in a way that's appropriate with the TIF act,” said Urich.

“The concerned citizens raised some suggestions that may be more appropriate for us to look at as part of our zoning ordinance and our land development code that references industrial property that talks about carbon dioxide and transportation and sequestration.”

The Galena Road Industrial Park TIF aims to facilitate the creation of a $40 million business park, improving infrastructure in the area to encourage private development.

“It would certainly be a green business park, is what we would look at,” said Urich. “We'd want to be a good neighbor with [Peoria] Park District property on both sides that we would be able to coordinate with that. We did have some input from the park district, some of which their concern is obviously as the business park gets built out, would there be appropriate buffers?

“It's not included in the plan, but it would be part of the site planning process, that we would sit down and work with our neighbors at the park district and work to try and coordinate that. Because in the design that we've kind of looked at for the proposed business park, we would certainly want to see if there's opportunities to tie in to the trail network that's there at Forest Park.”

A full vote on establishing both TIFs is expected at the May 14 council meeting.

Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.