A new property tax abatement policy with several major changes was approved during Tuesday night’s semimonthly regular meeting of the Midlothian City Council.

Kyle Kinateder, president and CEO of the Midlothian Economic Development Corporation, said the city’s tax abatement policy has to be reviewed every two years in accordance with state law.

One of the changes to the policy is that it states that other organizations in the city have resources that should be considered for use as tools for economic growth before relying on the city’s general fund.

“A tax abatement is a very powerful tool,” Kinateder said. “Our intention in the development of this policy is to use it for those projects that take our community to the next level.”

Tax abatements, Kinateder said, typically establish a baseline taxable value for a property and are put in place for a maximum of 10 years. If a business expands and is granted an abatement, the business would not pay the tax on the added value for the length of the abatement.

Among other changes, longer review periods and notifications to the public have been incorporated into the policy; the ability to include land and inventory as part of the policy was eliminated; and the annual certification process has been adjusted and streamlined.

Also, the new policy states that every project that would get a tax abatement would be required to pay an average wage in excess of the county’s average wage.

“That ties our hands a little bit,” Kinateder said. “However, knowing that we’re making this policy a little wider and applying it to more things, we want it to be used for better projects.”

The policy identifies four areas that Kinateder said are important to the community: redevelopment of blighted property; creating new development as a catalyst for other areas; creating concentrations of employment or new commercial activity; and the redevelopment of Main Street.

Grove expansion

Council members also approved, with changes, the rezoning of a 40-acre property from single-family zoning to a planned development district. The vote was 5-0, with councilor Clark Wickliffe abstaining.

The property is located at the west ends of Walnut and Clancy lanes, between South Walnut Grove and Eastgate roads.

The parcel is an expansion of The Grove development that was approved in 2013, city planning manager Marcos Narvaez told the council. The Grove has expanded over the years and this 40-acre addition is the latest expansion. The tract will add 116 lots to the overall development, expanding it to a total of 492 lots. The proposed development plan includes open space, walking trails and a playground.

The tract falls under the “country module” identified in the city’s comprehensive plan, which recommends a minimum lot size of one acre, and the lots in the planned development are much smaller. However, Narvaez said the plan includes “transitional” lots that are larger in size, up to 14,000 square feet.

Councilmember Mike Rodgers recommended moving one walkway out of a drainage area because of problems with other similar walkways in the city, as well as potential liability in the event of a flood.

Rodgers also questioned why Walnut Lane, which currently dead-ends, needed to be extended into a through street with other east-west connectors planned in the area.

Other items

• Mayor Richard Reno read a proclamation designating the month of June as #MidloRises Month on behalf of the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce. Reno also praised the city and its staff for its work during the pandemic.

• The council approved a temporary concrete batch plant in the Mockingbird Springs subdivision for street paving, and authorized the rescheduling of the Midlothian Chamber’s Spring Wine and Arts Festival from June 13 to July 11.

• An amendment to an urban village planned development district for a property at 111 S. 7th St. was approved by the council.

• An amendment to the ordinance regulating secondary dwelling units was adopted. The amendment specifies where these secondary dwellings may be located and amends development regulations and standards.

• A right-of-way waiver was granted for a 9.4-acre property at Apple Court and Apple Lane, with the requirement that a public access easement be added. The owner of the lot plans to subdivide it.

• City parks and recreation director Heather Dowell updated council members on summer events in light of COVID-19 safety implementations. The city’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration will proceed as scheduled, and Dowell said Midlothian ISD will open the gates to the parking lot at the stadium. The city’s Fourth of July parade will also proceed.

• A three-month interest forbearance agreement between the Midlothian Community Development Corporation and the owner of the local Marriott hotel was approved.