Thursday, December 14, 2006

TIF Condemnation Threatens Immigrants in Arlington Heights

It’s nothing new that municipalities are driving out successful businesses that do not maximize sales tax revenue for the local town.

I first ran across this phenomenon in Marengo when the son of a man whose father had just built a new trucking terminal in Cicero told me that the property was being condemned so Cicero could allow in big box stores that would generate more sales tax.

Now, the Village Board in Arlington Heights is trying to condemn International Plaza, a strip mall located on Golf Road where it intersects with Arlington Heights Road using the condemnation powers it derives from formation of a Tax Increment Financing district.

And you know what a fan I am of TIF districts.

At least in this county, the cities and villages (Richmond is heading in that direction with the help of the McHenry County Board and McHenry County College) flocking to this device to steal money from school and other local governmental districts and raise my taxes haven’t gone the eminent domain route yet.

The International Plaza is occupied by numerous immigrant-owned specialty stores. It’s the closest thing to the United Nations in the northwest suburbs.

Yet Arlington Heights wants it to be more white bread. A Super Target would be better than the diverse shopping opportunities now available.

The owner of the plaza stated that when the village designated this thriving specialty mall blighted” in 2002 it was 97.75% occupied!

That’s not an indication of blight in most people’s eyes.

At a Tuesday meeting of the “Coalition to Save International Plaza” a
determined group of merchants and minority business owners made plans
to defend their property rights which are under assault by the village.

A legal challenge has been brought by the owner of the X-Sport health club to remove this designation. A decision is expected this month

But the Arlington Heights shop owners want to cover all bases.

They’ve decided to engage in a high visibility publicity campaign to try to shame the village for their actions just in case the legal challenge is unsuccessful.

The group will be conducting a candle light vigil to protect property rights this Monday, December 18th, at 6:30 at the Senior Center where a village board meeting is scheduled. The senior center is located at 1801 W. Central Road.

Scott Bludorn, the 2004 Libertarian Party candidate for state representative against Republican State Rep. Sid Mathias and then ran against him in the GOP primary in 2006, getting 46% of the vote, is deeply involved in the fight.

Bludorn’s playing the role of citizen activist that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich advised for local politicians.

There was also talk of publicizing a national boycott of Target for their role in this situation at the recent meeting.

More information can be found in this 2002 Daily Herald article.

Photos from Windy Pundit.com, posted October 10, 2005.

Posted first at McHenry County Blog.

1 comments:

Jerry 9:06 AM  

Cal,
This is the kind of local issue that people on both sides of the aisle can get together on. TIF abuse by muni's is a brutally under-reported scandal. Of course, Mayor Daley is a massive offender.

Have you seen the Chicago Reader's series on TIF's and their abuse? If not, here's a quick link.
http://www.chicagoreader.com/tifarchive/
It's a good series, so you should try to find the time to read the articles.

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