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Monday, December 1, 2008

Madison TIF Neighbors: Dollar Speaks Louder Than Citizens

The Madison City Commission meets tonight to give second reading to Ordinance 1470, which will rezone a chunk of the Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District from residential to commercial. Developer Randy Schaefer has determined that the land, nestled among the new cul-de-sac, the creek, and his existing business complex, is too small to support viable housing and is better used for "retail/service/personal storage buildings."

Mr. Schaefer's October 23 zoning request to the commission noted that he had met with each of the adjacent landowners and had "not had any opposition." Evidently Thomas and Lois Spiering of 503 SE 4th Street have since changed their minds. Page 14 of tonight's agenda packet carries their lone letter of protest:

My wife and I are strongly against proposed ordinance change No. 1470, to amend this property from Residential to Neighborhood Business.

This is located right behind our backyard!

Our complaint is probably an action of futility. The dollar speaks louder then [sic] citizens in this town! [Thomas and Lois Spiering, letter to Madison City Commission, 2008.11.24]

Hmmm... where have I heard that before?

I do wish the Spierings had taken the time to explain their opposition a little further. What is the problem with changing the lot from residential to business? It's not like Schaefer is putting in a hog farm or a strip club or some other public nuisance. Town land that would otherwise sit idle will get some development and raise a little extra cash to pay off the TIF loan sooner.

Maybe we'll hear some more opposition at tonight's meeting. Even if we do, be sure to call Randy tomorrow to reserve your new storage space!


  1. The good old boy network is in full swing here. Dig a little deeper to find the truth. Everyone involved deserves to be embarrassed.

  2. For me this issue ties directly to employment concerns, and that our community would have been much better served working on employment efforts. I can't get away from thinking we need to attract a solid group of smaller, mixed employers and avoid dependence. Is this the right time to build spec houses? I've tried to read everything I can on Manitou, and they have a very interesting and successful history which includes long-term ties with other manufacturers. Still, would you put investment money, or our tax dollar right now in new Madison housing? jh

  3. Mr. Schaefer's neighbor, Genevieve Tomscha and her children have expressed concern. The VFW Club has expressed concern, yet Randy says nobody's complaining? Why hasn't Randy been asked to get signatures from the neighbors like everyone else does for zoning changes? Let everyone know what he plans back there. His zoning application says he contacted all neighbors, but the box for signatures to verify his conversations is checked "no". I only have one question. If LAIC has been buying property for him and pushing this creek/slough development, how many jobs will it create? That's what we need right now is jobs.

  4. I hope the Tomschas and VFW members will put their concerns on the record tonight. And let me play dumb for a moment: what are the specific concerns the neighbors have? Do they not want Schaefer to use his land for anything? Or do they oppose the types of businesses he has proposed for the land?

  5. "Town land that would otherwise sit idle will get some development and raise a little extra cash to pay off the TIF loan sooner." That is not true. If the sale of any of the lots occurs for residential or commercial, that money goes directly to the developer, not to pay off the city bond. The city TIF bond is paid back by the new or increased taxes each year over the next 20 years. Tax Increment Financing District doesn't require the developer to pay ahead if he/she sells a lot or two.

  6. Anon 3:40: I'm clear on where money from selling the lots goes. I'm talking about the tax dollars. Whoever owns the lot, the sooner it is developed, the sooner its valuation increases, and the sooner it starts producing more property tax revenue. Whether Randy or new owners pay it doesn't matter. As you said, those tax dollars are what pay the TIF bond back. If the land sits idle, the TIF takes a little longer to pay off.

  7. The good old boy network is here to stay. Who do you think hired the director for the LAIC and who do you think is on the board? You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. I hope the neighbors of Mr. Schaefer development will show up at tonights meeting and protest the zoning change.

  8. Anons:

    "The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves."

    ~William Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude, 1693

    One day, we hope you find peace in just being.

  9. To Anon 4:05:

    Do you really think those folks posting are jealous? Maybe they are concerned about Madison's future and why one person gets sweet deals for a personal development while others pay for their own lots and develop their own land without handouts from the investment group or city.

    With the low number of homes being built or bought in Madison right now, maybe the focus should be on industry development for a few years. We need jobs for people and all we've seen is job losses lately. Who is developing the job pipeline for Madison?

  10. For me this issue should only be concerned about employment. If someone wants to put a strip club or a car wash in behind there, so be it. We know storage units are coming and spec houses. I'd like to see more youth able to stay with long-term job growth.

  11. Anon 4:05:

    No sweet deals, no handouts. Since you obviously didn't speak up at the meeting earlier this evening, your doubts must have been resolved. Otherwise, you should have spoken up!

  12. A lot of squeeky wheels ---- and very little wheels with very small minds at that. Grow up, whiners!

  13. I must admit, I'm with K.E. on this one. I'm not seeing the "sweet deal" or "handout" in a typical rezoning request. And while I agree with some of the above comments that the city should focus on more job creation, I still haven't heard any Anonymi connect the dots to this specific zoning request.

  14. K Ericsson:

    Weren't you the same K Ericsson who in earlier posts criticized those who you felt were having conversations with themselves, posing as different individuals on this blog?

    I noticed you posted at 9:17PM as K Ericsson and again one minute later, at 9:18PM, as Anonymous to get the rest of your thoughts posted. Is the kettle calling the pot black?

    No matter how anonymous or fictitous anyone thinks they are, every computer has its own IP address and Cory knows who his posters are. He's not stupid.

  15. TIFs specifically exclude residential housing. They were developed in urban areas to bring in businesses and create jobs. It was a big stretch to allow this TIF to be tied to commercial property and improvements made for residential property. This subsidy would have been much better used to attract business, create employment and more substantially improve the community overall that way. To allow it was poor decision making on the part of the city commission. Ask the Gehl employees working 3 days a week how they feel. Ask people commuting to Brookings to work at HyVee how they feel. I'm pretty sure they would like a decent job right here in Madison and to see that's what our community is working towards. It's the one sided aspect of this project that gets people and that the spirit of the tax law was sidelined. The link to zoning is the community was sold the TIF for housing, supposedly to attract new employers because we have inadequate housing. Storage units could have gone anywhere. I didn't say this at the city commission meeting because the TIF is in place, and I've said it already. I realize people have busy lives, but they need to go to a few city commission meetings. John Hess

  16. Anon 7:39: I'm also not inclined to make stuff up. I have no evidence that would support the assertion you make. Do you?

  17. You can watch last night's City meeting today at noon on the public access channel and again at 7PM today on the same channel.

    The original LAIC TIF Application says "There is a need for homes priced between $120,000 and $150,000 in Madison (unsupported by documentation). There is a need for transitional housing and alternative housing in Madison (unsupported by documentation). This TIF provides all of that."

    Does that mean that folks will be living in those storage units until they can find a house they can afford? Will that be our alternative and transitional housing?

    Here's why people in Madison get so upset and feel someone got an inside deal. The City purchased the 6 acres of land from Dick Wiedeman for $150,000, then spent over $200,000 to clear out buildings and backfill the area with gravel. Total investment for the City, just over $350,000.

    Russell Olson, who was LAIC director at the time, helps Randy purchase all six acres of land for $155,000 at a loss of $200,000 to the City of Madison with the anticipation of taxable property.

    Randy develops the frontage and sells several spaces for over $500,000 along with 2nd Street Diner land. He still owns half of the building and rents it out. It is producing property taxes.

    Current LAIC director, Dwaine Chapel helps Randy and Teresa Schaefer get the City to approve a bond for a Tax Increment Financing District, which gives Randy $320,000 to develop the remaining four acres behind his Plaza for affordable housing. No mention of more commercial buildings. After the TIF is approved, Randy and Teresa create Silver Creek Circle, LLC to protect their personal assets.

    Then the game plan changes again as Randy asks for rezoning some of the residential property to commercial so he can either sell some of the land or put up storage buildings and retail service buildings behind his Plaza.

    Here we are, a full year after the TIF approval and there is not a single affordable house being built yet.

    If we truly needed affordable housing, people want to see houses built so they get something for the taxpayer bond they provided.

  18. Anon: 7:39

    I'm not that stupid, idiot. Call Cory and ask if it was me. Do whatever you want... TRY TO CATCH SOMEONE DOING SOMETHING THAT YOU DO!

    Thanks for remembering my posts, I must have great impact! :)

  19. Rod,

    You were at the meeting. If you still have unresolved issues, you should have brought them up there instead of posting it on a blog.

    If you are concerned about the fact that houses are not being built yet, you should again, refer to someone who is credible and get all the information you need.

  20. taxpayers don't want to see any one get rich off their tax dollars unless creating the jobs. like for industry growing. appartments instead of homes back there would be good. low income appartments get fed money for subsidey, cash flow, easy to fill up.

  21. As long as he pays back the bond, what does anyone care what he puts up back there. It was bare for 100 years, so anything will be something. Get it on the tax rolls and start making those payments.


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