Syracuse Council Moves Tax Abatements Forward

The following from Denise Federow, Times-Union Correspondent

A couple of tax abatements moved forward with action taken by the Syracuse Town Council at their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday via Zoom.

A confirmatory resolution for Travel Star’s tax abatement was approved. Steve Brenneman, acting as a representative for Travel Star, questioned whether the matter had been advertised in local papers and Town Manager Mike Noe assured him it had.

Council members were reminded that Travel Star wants to build a $600,000 facility and is investing $1.3 million in personal property, including $1,228,000 in equipment; $100,000 in research and development; $30,000 in logistics and $20,000 in IT. They plan to hire 10 new employees with a total salary of $450,000 and potential for more employees.

The tax abatement is for 10 years on both the real and personal property.

In a related matter, the Council approved paying a purchase price proceeds grant claim for Travel Star for $73,033.10 and authorized the clerk-treasurer to write the check.

The Council also approved a declaratory resolution for Aluminum Insights. Brenneman said Aluminum Insight “seems a perfect fit for the tech park” and is making a “significant investment in real estate and will bring in a good number of high paying jobs to the community.”

Brenneman was also seeking the Council’s support on a judicial review for Polywood’s zoning appeal. He explained Building 8 requires two variances from the Board of Zoning Appeals: one variance to allow a loading dock on the street side and one variance for parking on the street side.

He said there was only one remonstrator and her concern was headlights coming into the homes. So the BZA required an automatic gate that will slide open and closed each time a truck comes through, but he said the opening they’re requiring is 138 feet long and no one makes a sliding automatic gate that long, making the requirement “impossible to meet.”

Plus, he said, the loading hours are only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. so there would only be rare times headlights would be utilized. They filed an appeal and were asking the Council’s support to remove the BZA requirement.

Councilman Tom Hoover wondered if doing so would cause potential liability for the town, and he was assured the only court case is an appeal of a zoning requirement.

“The town’s involvement is only one of saying you want the project to move forward and the requirement’s not necessary,” he said.

The Council agreed to support the appeal.

Noe asked for the Council’s approval to accept the low responsive bid on the Brooklyn Street project. Noe said they opened bids earlier that day and it appeared that Phend & Brown would be the low bid, coming in around $100,000 less than the engineer’s estimate of $543,000.

Jeremy Hardy, of Commonwealth Engineers, was at the virtual meeting and said he’d pick up the bid packages the next day to review them but they were asking the Council to approve it contingent upon review.

Hardy said Phend & Brown bid $434,026.06 with an alternate of $20,000 for a total bid of $454,861.69. He said the urgency was to get them under contract and get that to Indiana Department of Transportation for the Community Crossings Grant.

The Council agreed to approve Phend & Brown’s bid contingent upon review.

Changes are coming to downtown parking, according to Police Chief Jim Layne. He told the council that he, Noe and town attorney Vern Landis worked on an ordinance. They decided to remove the two-hour parking limit and just keep no parking from 4 to 6 a.m. on East and West Main streets and also North Huntington Street.

They also decided to remove limits in the three downtown parking lots on East Main, Harrison and West Pearl streets.

“Effectively making them 24-hour lots,” Layne said. “With better signage, we’re hoping there’ll be better utilization of uptown parking lots.”

Council President Larry Siegel questioned why they were removing the limits and said when they enacted them it was because business owners were concerned about employees parking there all day.

Layne said he thought the business owners could work it out and they made the decision to be consistent about enforcement. He said they didn’t have an enforcement officer anymore and chalking tires was apparently a violation of the 4th amendment.

The Council approved the decision.

In other business, the Council:

• Approved the purchase of 23 Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus regulators for the fire department at a cost not to exceed $40,000.

• Approved the reappointment of Diana Clark to the library board.

• Heard the park department received maps for future plantings and have been working on plans for new ball field.

• Praised the street department for the job they did clearing snow from the streets.

• Heard from Turkey Creek Township Fire Chief Mickey Scott. He is asking residents and business owners to be sure to clear snow away from fire hydrants so snow plows don’t hit them and so the fire department can find them in the event of an emergency.