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Ripon seeks to entice mixed use projects of housing & retail
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Elected leaders recently approved an amendment of the City of Ripon’s Economic Development Incentive Program to include qualifying mixed-used projects with the condition of bringing back for review in six months.

“I’m all for stimulating business growth but I don’t want to put the city at risk,” said Ripon City Councilmember Leo Zuber at the Feb. 11 monthly meeting.

This is the add-on to the Economic Development Incentive Program adopted on May 2017.

The purpose of the plan, according to Planning Director Ken Zuidervaart in his report to the council, was “to provide opportunities to increase the City’s economic position by incentivizing certain businesses by providing short term financial assistance for long term economic growth and vitality to the City Ripon,” he said.

The approved amendment would allow for mixed-use – included projects are those residential and commercial components – that would generate a net financial benefit to the city, in turn, making such projects eligible for a partial or complete waiver of certain development fees.

“My concern is the difference between a developer and a business owner,” Zuber said. “If a business owner were to put in a building, there will be a business and you can assume that the City will get money.

“A developer, on the other hand, builds a building it could sit empty for a year or two years.”

His concern was with the latter.

Since its inception, Zuidervaart noted that only one business thus far has taken advantage and qualified for this program.

Boat Country, which was constructed in 2017, has been operating successfully since the grand opening.

With that, the City contemplated the amendment to the Economic Development Incentive Program to include eligible mixed-use projects that could provide a net financial benefit to the General Fund.