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Decision on North Broadway assessments could set precedent

Decision on North Broadway assessments could set precedent

Objections over special assessments will likely delay the start of the North Broadway reconstruction project.

Scores of property owners along the corridor have filed appeals contesting the special assessments sent out by the City of Rochester.

That includes many property owners whose land runs adjacent to alleyways off the road. Both neighbors and city officials say there had been miscommunication about how the alleys would be funded.

On Monday, the Rochester City Council decided to remove the alleys from the scope of the project. Given that the alley work had been part of phase one of the project, city engineers will need to go back and make adjustments to other portions of the planning documents.

“If we’re getting pushback about the alleys, I definitely want the alleys taken out,” said Council Member Nick Campion. “If [the primary users] don’t want to participate in funding the alleys, then so be it.”

With the removal of the alleys, the total special assessment drops from $3.2 million to about $2.5 million, said City Administrator Steve Rymer.

The total project cost is just north of $19 million. In addition to special assessments, revenue sources include $9.2 million in turnback funds from the state and $4.4 million in Destination Medical Center funds.

Campion said the level of opposition to the assessments is unusual, even given the magnitude of the project. Whereas in the past, there may have been a dozen or so appeals, the Broadway project had over 70 letters.

He said how the city responds to the situation could set a precedent for how the city uses special assessments in the future.

“Whatever we do here isn’t just going to last for all of Broadway, it’s going to last for all the community,” said Campion.

The council decided Monday to table a public hearing on the assessments until after city administration has the chance to draw up a new financial plan for the project. One thing that does appear to be off the table is dipping back into the pool of state funds. Council members said non-essential amenities would be removed from the project before they risk depleting funds from future phases of the Broadway redevelopment.

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