Warrenville officials are trying assure property owners in a proposed tax increment financing district that the city won't force them to sell their homes and businesses.
City council members are considering whether to implement the so-called TIF district to help rejuvenate the Civic Center near Butterfield and Batavia roads and the Old Town section near the confluence of Warrenville, Batavia and River roads.
In a TIF district, property tax payments to local governments are frozen for up to 23 years. Any extra property tax money collected within the area after the date the district is established goes into a special fund controlled by the city. The money in the fund then can be used to help pay for certain improvements, such as roads and other infrastructure.
If approved, Warrenville's third TIF district will be a tool to make economic redevelopment of the Civic Center and the Old Town a reality, city officials said.
But there are concerns.
Mayor David Brummel said during a public hearing this week that "a number of residents" have asked him if the TIF district would lead to Warrenville condemning land for private redevelopment.
Eminent domain allows the city to condemn land for public use and give the property owner what is determined to be a fair price.
However, Brummel said the town has never forced property owners to sell land in either of its two previous TIF districts.
"Past performance, I think, is always a good indicator of future performance," he said. "This (eminent domain) is not a tool that we intend to use."
So far, Warrenville has purchased five separate parcels in the proposed TIF district. All of them were acquired as a result of voluntary sale by the former property owners.
Meanwhile, Community Development Director Ronald Mentzer said there's other sites in the area already on the market.
"There's plenty of people ... that would voluntarily their property for the right price for redevelopment," Mentzer said. "So from the city's perspective, going through the process that forces someone to sell their property for redevelopment purposes just seems like a lot of work and effort that's really unnecessary."
The public hearing on the TIF district proposal is scheduled to continue on May 6 at city hall, 28W701 Stafford Place. The earliest the city council could vote on the ordinances to create the TIF is May 20.