Process for CRA coming together


The process for property owners to utilize the newly created Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) is coming together, and city council will need to appoint members to a negotiating committee soon for commercial applications.

City Manager Lance Willard presented council last week with drafts of two separate forms for CRA applications — one for residential property and the other for commercial property.

The city established the CRA recently in order to promote economic development.

A CRA is a state-sanctioned program that allows communities to grant tax exemptions for residential and commercial/industrial development within a defined area.

The city has designated the entire portion of the city in both Columbiana and Mahoning counties as a CRA.

Willard said the draft form for residential CRA requests is fairly “cut and dry” while the draft form for commercial requests is more detailed.

The proposed form for commercial projects outlines 12 steps that are required in order for the CRA request to be approved.

One of those requirements is a $750 application fee.

Another requirement is that the city create a negotiating committee to determine if an exemption is warranted on the proposed project, and if so, how much of an exemption is appropriate.

Members of the committee must be a representative from the local school district, a county auditor’s representative, county economic development representative, council representatives, interested residents, and the city manager.

Willard also told council during the meeting that two more CRA requests have come in since the last meeting.

“This negotiating committee is really important for us to get up as soon as possible so we can start processing applicants,” Councilman Rick Noel said.

He recommended that Willard reach out to organizations to see if they would be able to make recommendations on who could be appointed.

He also said that anyone on council should let Willard know soon if they would like to serve on that committee.

“There are some very complex issues we are going to have to deal with,” he added.

The city also still needs to appoint two more residents to the CRA Housing Council, Willard said.