IM council backs Pine Mountain plan
IRON MOUNTAIN — In a 4-3 decision, Iron Mountain City Council concurred Monday with a brownfield plan for an estimated $25.5 million expansion and redevelopment at Pine Mountain Resort, potentially making the project eligible for a tax abatement of up to 30 years.
While taxes will continue to be paid on the existing facility, the council March 6 had tabled a decision after learning there was no provision in the brownfield plan for year-to-year inflationary increases in the current valuation.
Further discussions took place with Storie Co. of Indianapolis, which acquired the 55-room ski and golf resort in December, but with Monday’s vote the original plan goes forward without changes.
Final local approval rests with the Dickinson County Board, which postponed a public hearing March 12 because the city had yet to concur. Breitung Township approved the plan Feb. 27.
The brownfield activity, which is a small part of the project, calls for demolishing old maintenance buildings and addressing contamination underneath. It makes the development eligible for brownfield tax increment financing, whereby Storie Co. can recapture taxes from the increase in taxable value.
It’s estimated the reimbursement could total about $1.5 million over the course of 30 years.
The proposed development involves building 35 cabins totaling more than 14,500 square feet of space on the north section of the property. It also includes a mountain bike pump track, sledding hills, walking and biking trails and a community green space.
Most of the work on parcels totaling more than 282 acres is within the city limits, but a portion is in Breitung Township.
Trinity Hart, Storie Co. chief product officer, said that in addition to tourism benefits, the project will bring $750,000 in new wages once finished.
The council also heard from members of Dickinson Trail Network, who said the bike trails will be a significant public asset. While acknowledging the city will surrender some tax base, DTN board member Steve Veihl said the trails can help draw young professionals.
The council discussed requiring an inflationary factor on the existing property tax, perhaps totaling about $180,000 in additional tax revenue over 30 years, or an average of $6,000 per year.
“I think it’s fair that the (tax value) of the property goes up,” Mayor Dale Alessandrini said.
Hart, however, warned that the requirement would add extra scrutiny during the financing process, which has been complicated by recent bank failures. “There’s a very real risk that we wouldn’t be able to do this development right away,” she said.
Voting in favor of the original plan were council members Ken Clawson, Nathan Zemar, Dave Farragh and Kyle Blomquist.
“I really believe in the long run it’s going to be good for Iron Mountain,” Clawson said.
Voting no were council members Pam Maule, Cathy Tomassoni and Alessandrini.
Although Blomquist voted in favor, he had voiced skepticism over whether adding an inflationary factor to the exiting tax base would actually put the project in jeopardy.