Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Romulus council rejects tax abatement request

Scott Spielman
Special Writer

Members of the Romulus City Council rebuffed a request last week for a tax abatement to bring a Canadian firm to the southeast side of the city.
The D & G Building Co. had requested an Industrial Development District (IDD) be established on two large but narrow plots of land off Inkster Road, just north of Eureka Road for the construction of a greenhouse facility that would be owned and operated by Mucci Farms, which is based in Ontario. The 55,000 square foot building would employ between 80 and 100 people and serve as a distribution center for fruits and vegetables grown at Mucci Farms facilities elsewhere, according to the project sponsors.

Mucci Farms had formerly operated a similar facility in the City of Taylor, but had since moved it to Huron, OH.
“We thought it would be a great way to diversify our economic base,” said Jazmine Danci, director of Marketing and Community Development for the city. “It's an opportunity to recruit an international business and take one away from Ohio.”
The land is zoned for industrial use and could accommodate much more intensive business uses. It would serve only eight trucks a day. There are other businesses further north, but the proposed site is between two residential properties and there are several other homes nearby. Inkster Road is only two lanes at the spot.
Residents weren't in favor of the project--either the size and type of business or the possible tax abatement it would receive.
“This has always been a residential area. This has never been an industrial area,” said Cheryl Brohl, whose property is adjacent to the north side of the proposed development. She has lived there for more than 65 years. “We didn't ask to be rezoned.”
Councilwoman Virginia Williams said she wasn't in favor of the project.
“We give too many tax breaks to businesses while our residents get tax increases,” she said, adding: “With all the property we have available in Romulus, why does this have to be between two residences?”
Councilwoman Kathy Abdo was also concerned that Mucci Farms left the City of Taylor as soon as its tax abatement expired. Councilman William Wadsworth wanted more information on the project, itself, which would have been the subject of a public hearing on Oct. 28. Councilwoman Eva Webb, along with other council members, was concerned about the proposed setbacks between the truck loop, loading bays and the nearby homes.
“Nobody wants a business that big in their backyard,” she said.
The establishment of the IDD would have been the first step in the process. The project would still have come back before the council for review and to determine if it was eligible for a tax abatement. The IDD request failed for lack of support from council, and the public hearing that had been requested for Oct. 28 was taken off the agenda.