By Lauren Zeugner
SYRACUSE — The Syracuse Town Council and attorney Steve Snyder tackled a full agenda Tuesday night, April 20, as the council approved a number of tax abatements for several businesses either moving into town or expanding.
The council approved rezoning the former Shopko building, located north of town, from a commercial district to Industrial II. Snyder explained the Shopko building has been empty for quite a while as retail chains aren’t interested in a 44,000 square foot building in an area as small as Syracuse.
Areas zoned Industrial II has several restrictions such as no outdoor operations and no outdoor storage unless it’s hidden by fencing. Quality Engineering Services, which makes electrical components for the RV and marine industries, is looking to expand its operations. The business currently has 30 employees and is looking to add 109 more in the future.
Snyder also prepared a declaratory agreement for tax abatement for the Shopko building. Under the Indiana state statute, buildings that have been vacant for a significant period of time qualify for tax abatement.
The council approved rezoning the property and approved a 10-year tax abatement for the property. Councilman Bill Musser asked about tax abatement on equipment, Snyder said QES doesn’t qualify for a personal property abatement.
The council approved a confirmatory resolution for tax abatement for Aluminum Insights, as well as approved the company’s purchase of Lot No. 1 in the technology park. That lot had previously been purchased by a company called Hammerhead. The council also approved an AT&T easement for Aluminum Insights.
Snyder also presented a declaratory resolution for tax abatement for Legacy Wood Creations which is looking for tax abatement on both real estate and personal property. The business is ready to start construction in the technology park with completion expected in late 2023. The council will hold a confirmatory hearing at its May meeting.
The council approved a quick claim deed transferring the title of the Turkey Creek Flood Control Device and granted an easement from the town to the Turkey Creek Dam and Dyke Conservation District. The easement allows the conservancy access and egress to the flood control device through Veterans Park at Crosson Mill with the conservancy responsible for any damage it may cause.
The council approved providing town personnel to man the flood control gates to keep Lake Wawasee, Syracuse Lake and Mudd Lake at their proper levels.
As his final piece of business Snyder informed the council John’s Butcher Shoppe in Nappanee will not be able to expand into the old Syracuse Elementary School as intended. He recommended the council rescind a zoning ordinance it passed, but did not record, allowing dual use of the property for residential and commercial. The council rescinded the zoning change that was not recorded.
In other business, the council agreed to pay Kim Richardson $1,500 for an easement on the southwest intersection of Main and Brooklyn to widen the curve as part of the road expansion for Polywood. The council also approved a notice to proceed with the road work on Main and Brooklyn.
The council approved a contract with HRP Construction for road and utility construction in the technology park for $239,158. The council also approved an easement for the technology park for Lots No. 2,3 and 5 to vacate the 20 foot utility easement and the 40-foot drive easement to be replaced by a 60-foot wide utility easement.
Council President Larry Siegel explained a new road had to be constructed in the technology park so the lots could be accessed. In order to do that the utilities had to be moved so they would run alongside the road, not underneath it.
The council passed an ordinance to establish the ARP Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Grant Fund.
In department reports Town Manager Mike Noe announced Wesley Goodman was the new hire for the street department. The council approved the purchase of new backhoe with accessories for $84,917.
Police Chief Jim Layne announced one of the new squad cars has arrived. He hopes the other two will be delivered by the end of May.
The town received its first reimbursement from an Indiana Homeland Security Grant for $75,000. Layne asked permission to partner with Wawasee Schools to apply for another Indiana Homeland Security grant for $280,000. This one is also a reimbursement grant. The council approved.
Park Superintendent Chad Jonsson reported the Easter Egg hunts went well and the parks department may continue separating children by ages for the hunts in the future. About 20 little girls attended a Princess Party with Elsa and Ava Saturday, April 17.
Touch-A-Truck is set for May 1. The Farmers’ Market opens Saturday, May 8, with a Mother’s Day craft for area children. They will be allowed to decorate a flower pot and plant a flower as a gift for their mothers.
Bids for the new ball park will be opened Monday, May 3. Siegel requested a financial analysis be done before the bid is awarded.
Fire Chief Mickey Scott informed the council the Turkey Creek Fire Territory is entering into agreements with both Lutheran and Parkview EMS, since Turkey Creek has been called to assist outside Kosciusko County. Those contracts are due May 1.
The annual fire department pork chop barbecue will be on July 3. Fireworks permits have already come in. Lake Wawasee will have fireworks July 3 while Syracuse Lake will have fireworks on July 4.