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Abbyland asks Curtiss for land to build apts.

A request by the owner of Abbyland Foods to build employee housing in Curtiss met with a mixed reception at last week’s village board meeting.

Village president Randy Busse told his two board members that Harland Schraufnagel is interested in building apartments in Curtiss, but he wants low-cost land from the village before he commits to construction. Busse said Schraufnagel is proposing 16-unit apartment buildings with no garages, like the ones he recently built in Abbotsford.

When Schraufnagel asked him about available land within the village, Busse said he told him there are some villageowned plots in the northeast corner where two new wells were recently installed. Busse said Schraufnagel doesn’t think he should have to pay the village any money for the land because he already helped acquire the land so the village could expand its water supply.

“If he did build here, he would like to basically get it for as cheap as he got it from Abbotsford,” he said. “Abbotsford is offering him basically a dollar a lot, so if he does build here, he does not plan on spending any money on the land.”

Trustee Betty Rettig said Schraufnagel would need to answer questions and address concerns from board members before any proposal moves forward.

“I’m telling you now, if he wants to do that, he needs to come to a board meeting,” she said, noting that she has spoken to several village residents who are opposed to the idea.

“They don’t want it after everything that’s going on in Abbotsford with his housing,” she said.

Rettig also raised concerns about the village being able to provide enough water for new residential development, after recently expanding its well system to keep up with demand from Abbyland Foods.

“I can’t see doing that because we’re going to be looking for more water,” she said.

Trustee John Unruh, on the other hand, said he would like to check out the Abbyland apartments in Abbotsford and find out more information about Schraufnagel’s proposal before taking a position.

“If we were to do something, we would have to have some type of agreement with him,” Unruh said.

Busse said another developer that spoke to the village a couple years ago is still interested in possibly building eight-unit apartments with garages — but only if the village has TIF incentives to offer. Tax-incremental financing allows municipalities to keep 100 percent of the property taxes on any new buildings, as long as the money is spent on infrastructure improvements, land acquisition and other incentives for developers.

If the village were to create a new TIF district, the cost of providing free land to Schraufnagel could be reimbursed by the tax revenue generated by any apartments he built. The village could also use TIF money to further expand its water system, Busse noted.

Busse said he also recently spoke to the owner of Walnut Creek, which is still interested in building a new cold-storage facility within the village, possibly next year, but the company also wants TIF incentives before it commits to building.

However, after Curtiss closed a 20-year TIF district in 2018, Rettig said residents remain wary of opening a new one because of the possible impacts on their property taxes.

“You’re not going to get a TIF district in this village, I’m sorry to tell you,” she told Busse.

Rettig said the question of whether or not to create another TIF district needs to be put to a referendum vote before.

“We may have to do that,” Busse acknowledged.

Based on what he heard from Rettig and Unruh, Busse said he would tell Schraufnagel that village officials are “still looking things over” and would get back to him in the future.