May 18, 2016

City board gives nod for zone expansion

By Daniel Arens

Following a decision by the state government to allow potential expansion of Renaissance Zones for certain cities if they meet certain requirements, Buster Langowski has been working hard to try and include more zones for Hazen.
Langowski, executive director of Hazen Community Development, is looking at two additional parcels to be added to the 21 zones that currently benefit from being Renaissance Zones. These would include the site of the Lewis and Clark RV Park and the old ALCO building, which is currently in the process of being refurbished for Tractor Supply Company (TSC).
Businesses or homes located in the Renaissance Zones of communities are eligible to receive property and income tax abatements for a period of up to five years. The idea is to offer incentives for new businesses or homeowners to build or develop in those zones.
Langowski said TSC could benefit significantly with its new location if the building could be included in the scope of Hazen’s Renaissance Zone, while also noting there are other possible locations to consider expanding, including for homes and businesses along 4th Avenue between Cenex and Main Street. TSC would still have to pay sales tax to the city even if the Renaissance Zone expansion is approved.
Hazen resident Dan Pillar asked about the benefit the expanded zone would have for the city if there is already a new business scheduled to come in, adding that expanding the zone should be used when there is a location where the city hopes to see a new business move in.
Langowski replied that the lease has not yet been officially signed and, although it is likely TSC will sign regardless of the Renaissance Zone expansion, it would only help confirm the business does come in. He also added it is a question of economic and community development, pointing out that, for example, one new family moving to Hazen to work at a new business could help boost the business and education of the community.
Commissioner Casey Stern noted the original use of the Renaissance Zone was to help bring new businesses into old parts of town to refurbish those zones. He added that, with projected budget cuts at local and state levels, he did not want to see revenues further decreased through property tax abatements for new companies.
Langowski again emphasized the long-term benefit he saw in helping new businesses in the area.
The Hazen City Commission voted 3-1 in favor of expanding the Renaissance Zone, with Stern dissenting and Commissioner Nancy Wolf absent from the meeting. Commission President Jerry Obenauer agreed with Langowski that expanding the zone would make Hazen more attractive for future businesses and homeowners.

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