Riverside council annexes Northern Heights land

RIVERSIDE — After hearing no comments from the public, the Riverside City Council approved annexing the area that will become the Northern Heights subdivision into the city and rezoning it for residential use.

The council also voted to waive the second and third readings of the rezoning ordinance, approving it during Monday’s regular meeting. The only comment received was from the Washinghton County Engineer’s office inquiring if the county would still be responsible for maintenance of the road, or if the city would. Council members Tom Sexton and Edgar McGuire voted against the annexation and Sexton voted against rezoning.

“I’m not opposed to the project moving forward, but I am opposed to the city financing a good portion of it,” Sexton said. “It should be funded by the developer.”

The next step will be to consider bringing the Northern Heights area, located just north of town, into the city’s Tax Increment Finance district.

Mayor Allan Schneider explained the council is working on phase one of the project in which the city will create 14 lots with infrastructure so developer Appex Construction of Iowa City will be able to construct houses on the lots to offer for sale. If the first phase goes well, future expansions of the project can bring up to 70 lots to the area. The city has allocated $450,000 for expenses for the first phase of the project.

“The city is cost- sharing for the infrastructure,” Schneider explained. “The intent is to get TIF funds for the properties.”

Schneider said the city would recoup the money through TIF funding and then the houses would be on the property tax rolls as well as increasing property values in the area. He hopes the city can add value to the project without being the developer.

The city has previously done similar projects and has added infrastructure to about 23 lots over the last 10 years.