I met with Racine mayor Gary Becker yesterday to discuss a few things.
Regarding my downtown rehab project, we would like to have windows installed on the north side of our building. No problem except that the owners of the neighboring vacant lot may some day wish to develop their property, and if they do, the windows would either need to be blocked in or fire-rated in order to meet code. Mayor Becker called in the city attorney, and it looks like we will be able to draw up an agreement wherin we will modify our property to meet code should our neighbors ever wish to develop the property.
I also hoped to gain some understanding of an impending water REC fee of up to six thousand dollars that I will have to pay in order to get a building permit. The REC fees are part of the recent water agreement wherin new development will pay for the expansion of the water treatment facility. The problem that I have about this is that the expansion was needed to accomodate suburban growth. The city is losing population. Thus my initial suspicions were verified. I am being taxed to pay for suburban sprawl. I don't like this one bit but there is nothing I can do about it now.
Lastly I hoped to convince Mayor Becker to consider a program that would encourage development in the city. My idea (it turns out others have already enacted the idea that I thought was original) is that new development would not have to pay taxes on their improvements for some fixed period of time. Mayor Becker had heard of similar programs. He indicated that they could try something like that when they target Uptown for improvement. Hopefully he will give the idea serious consideration.
All in all it was an interesting meeting and I am appreciative that Mayor Becker reacted quickly in resolving the code issue that we are facing.