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Buckeye council widens incentive district, reduces fees

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Not all development in the city of Buckeye is meant to tear up virgin soil.

At its Dec. 21 regular meeting, the Buckeye City Council voted unanimously to expand the boundaries and some service provisions of its Downtown Incentive District.

City officials hope this entice more developers to work on both housing and commercial infill in the city’s oldest district.

Originally formed in 2018 using the original town plat for Buckeye, the changes approved Dec. 21 widen the district to include several parcels once outside it.

According to Development Services Director Brian Craig, the boundaries were extended to include areas where development is likely to occur soon. It could have been extended further, Craig said, but the point is to reduce fees to induce development in the most crucial areas, with surrounding, better-supported later development to be done at the going rate.

“We don’t want to make everything in the city subject to a discount,” Craig said. “At some point, revenue still matters to the community. We want to incentivize the areas where we’re having kind of hard time filling in with anchor development. Staff believes an expansion of the qualifying geographic area may promote expanded economic development and activity in areas adjacent to the current incentive district boundary.”

Craig pointed out that single-family residential development is not part of the incentive plan. It excludes uses such as low-density residential, salvage yards, resource extraction, temporary uses, and other uses not aimed at regionally significant economic benefit, a staff report states.

The expansion incentive district expires three years from the effective date of the amended schedule, which will be Jan. 21.

“We can come back and enlarge or shrink the boundaries of this district, at a later date, as necessary to incentivize the type of growth we need, as time goes on,” Craig said.

The council ended up approving a new user fee schedule that sets and describes the fees for various development activities and permitting within the incentive district. The schedule details a program to offer a 75% discount on fees.

The expansion area will create a widened “doughnut” area beyond the core incentive district and will have limitations on applicable land use, and be limited in duration.

The new expansion area for the incentive district program adds land west of Miller Road to State Route 85, east toward the Watson Road alignment, south toward the Gila River and north to Maricopa Road.

The Hidden Lake area and an equestrian center are included in the district, as well as parcels on both sides of MC 85 in the Watson Road area.

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