Conversation continues on Terra Alta NCA

By Dillon Davis -

Conversations surrounding a proposed New Community Authority (NCA) for the Terra Alta development continued at Monday’s meeting of Delaware City Council. Terra Alta, located east of Pollock Road and north of Braumiller Road near Performance Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Delaware, is currently undergoing site and lot development for its first phase, and the development team is seeking to create a NCA to both reimburse them for amenities that have already been constructed and for amenities that are still to be constructed.

Among the amenities the developer is seeking to be reimbursed for through the NCA are community pools, a clubhouse, enhanced entrance features, a roundabout on Braumiller Road, walking trails, and trees along the streets. A list of expenses still to come for the developer, submitted to council, totals more than $5.8 million.

In the original petition, the development team was seeking a 7.5-mill charge for each property, which would add a 75 cent charge per every $1,000 of assessed property value to the property tax bill. The developer has since come down on that number, saying it would be willing to accept a 5.5-mill charge. Under this scenario, 5 mills would go toward reimbursing the developer and 0.5 mills would be paid to the city for improvements to the river frontage along the stretch of the Olentangy River adjacent to the development.

City Manager Tom Homan is suggesting the millage rate be 4 mills or below with the idea of keeping charges to homeowners in the $500-600 range for a $400,000 home.

“From the outset, I think I have recognized the issue the developer has in terms of wanting to offset costs associated with the project,” Homan said. “I’m also sensitive to the fact that we have two other existing (New Community) Authorities at 7.5 mills, and my concern is setting another one at that level.”

“From my standpoint, looking at the two millage (rates), at 7 mills, it pays off 17 years earlier … to me, it’s like taking a mortgage on your house. If you can afford the higher payments and the shorter term, that makes sense,” Vice Mayor Kent Shafer said.

In addition to the millage rate, discussions among council and the developers have included what costs the NCA should cover, the duration of the NCA, and the role of the homeowner’s association in the ongoing maintenance of the development once the NCA is dissolved.

Unlike the two other NCAs associated with the construction of Glenn Parkway, which were initiated by the city and will dissolve when the expenses for the road have been recouped, the Terra Alta NCA does not have a definitive end date.

Questioned by Councilwoman Lisa Keller about the timeline of the NCA at the last meeting, attorney Greg Stype said the millage will stay at the approved rate “long enough for the capital improvement costs to be paid back” with the millage rate dropping down to “a level that is required for simple maintenance” afterward.

Councilman George Hellinger requested any guidelines council might set for future NCAs be done before making any decisions on Terra Alta, as to include it in those guidelines.

“I think it would be disingenuous to create those guidelines and that framework after we pass this one,” Hellinger said.

Council was asked not to make any decision on the NCA on Monday per the request of Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle, who was absent from the meeting.

A fourth reading of the ordinance is expected to be held at the next meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 26.

By Dillon Davis

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @ddavis_gazette.

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @ddavis_gazette.