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By Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com

The city of Dexter held a public hearing for a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement for the Hilltop View Apartments, a proposed Avalon and Faith in Action development on Dan Hoey road, during their Aug. 12 city council meeting.

After a 30-minute public hearing that had statements from an Avalon representative and members of the community for and against the development, the ordinance was passed unanimously.

This ordinance, based off the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, is used with Low Income Housing Tax Credit projects. The Hilltop View Apartments would have both affordable and supportive housing units and the ordinance is for 4% of rents, which would be distributed in the same manner as other tax payments.

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The proposed development calls for 24 apartments in four two story buildings with an onsite community center and food pantry. Six of the units are one-bedroom apartments, ten are two bedrooms, and eight are three bedrooms.

Rent ranges from $610/month to $845/month with 12 units having project-based vouchers where tenant rate is 30% of income.

A tentative timeline discussed at a July 16 public forum about the development has August set for the site plan to be submitted. In October funding submissions would be next, in January of 2020 they’ll get information on funding, with the hope to have construction begin in mid 2020 with leasing beginning mid 2021.

Wendy Carty-Saxon, Avalon’s Director of Real Estate Development, opened the public hearing with additional details about the development, telling council passing the PILOT would be key to ensuring the development, the operating costs of the apartments, and a rent structure long term.

In addition to those that spoke for, and against, the PILOT ordinance, another member of the community spoke at the public hearing pertaining to development in the city as a whole.

“As both a homeowner and business owner here in town, I just have to reiterate comments from prior meetings,” said Phil Mekas, owner of the Beer Grotto, before the vote to pass the ordinance took place. “The choices the city council is making to increase taxes in other ways, which then makes housing more unaffordable in town, and then also create a tax-exempt project here. I just think you ought to take a step back and get the bigger picture and a more comprehensive plan for this stuff.”

After the vote, Mayor Shawn Keough made a statement about the PILOT ordinance. Earlier this summer, a Letter to the Editor in The Sun Times from a Dexter resident had a link to a petition that called for the city council to rethink the location of the proposed development.

“We are trying our best to get the information out there, share what we know, there’s  nothing to be hidden here,” said Keough.

Information provided and compiled by Avalon, Faith in Action, and city staff had over 50 pages of information in the city packet for the August 12 meeting.

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