Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 23, 2014

Suttons Bay takes step toward DDA

TRAVERSE CITY --— Wally Delamater wishes downtown Suttons Bay’s sidewalks were friendly to senior citizens in wheelchairs or just those who have trouble walking.

That’s one of the reasons why Delamater, Suttons Bay’s village manager, is excited the village council voted to create a resolution of intent to create a Downtown Development Authority.

A DDA can collect money for projects in a business area. the organization has the ability to capture new revenue generated by taxes on increased taxable value within the district and also tap into other funding mechanisms. Delamater said community officials hope a steady real estate market rebound will help a fledgling DDA program capture tax money generated by climbing property values.

“We’ve been strategically waiting for values to continue to decline,” Delamater said. “DDA’s open up opportunities that the village council doesn’t have, for example a village council can’t market its downtown district, but a DDA can.”

The DDA would be the first in Leelanau County, and a public hearing is scheduled in May.

Members of the business community are excited about the prospect of a DDA, which could lead to sidewalk and lighting improvements, as well as other projects.

“It’s an avenue for us to maybe create something different than the Chamber of Commerce to manage our commercial activities and act more as an economic development committee in Suttons Bay,” said Lois Bahle, a co-owner of Bahle Enterprises who is involved with the Suttons Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. “I think it’s just a very positive thing as a next step in a small community.”

Ryan Deery, the director of the Suttons Bay Bingham District Library who also is vice president of the Suttons Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, is waiting to see how the DDA works before forming an opinion about it.

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