The proposed Roosevelt Row business improvement district met resistance when it was brought before City Council for a final vote on Wednesday.
City Council was only able to pass the formation and general location of the district, which would span 250 feet east of Seventh Street to Seventh Avenue between Fillmore and Moreland streets. The district would provide beautification and event management services to the district to promote investment.
Specifics such as cost and exactly who would be included in the district were withdrawn. The item to approve the property assessment diagram for individual landowners met particular resistance from the public and within City Council.
District 2 Councilman Jim Waring proposed a motion to continue the assessment diagram to a future date, which lost in a 6-3 vote.
Gary Birnbaum, an attorney with law firm Dickinson Wright, said the diagram lacked square footage for each portion of land. He said the public document was incomplete and would be illegal to pass in its current state. Deputy City Manager Paul Blue confirmed that the diagram was incomplete.
Waring said this changed the council’s ability to pass this portion of the business improvement district proposal.
“This may have changed the dynamic here.” Waring said. “The map is not right.”
City Council passed a new motion unanimously to postpone the assessment to March 2 to provide more time to complete the diagram.
Numerous residents spoke out against the business improvement district, including longtime Phoenix resident Thaddeus Maston, who believed that the district would be an unnecessary open-ended project.
Supporters of the business improvement district see it as an important investment that, with tax money from residents and business owners, can enhance the look of the Roosevelt community. The city would provide an estimated budget of $372,686 for the first year. A tax increase on property owners in the area would eventually supplement those funds.
Vermon Pierre, lead pastor of the Roosevelt Community Church, said that the district would strengthen and support the community as a whole.
District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski emphasized the unity displayed by several different groups.
“I really believe in the whole ‘Team Phoenix’ approach where we come together, from the private sector to the nonprofits and community leaders and city government, and we work things out,” Nowakowski said.
If the diagram and other withdrawn items are passed, an organization run by a board of directors made up of district ratepayers and city administrators will be created in order to move toward the installment of the district.
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