- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 5, 2016

DETROIT (AP) - Efforts are taking place to pass an ordinance that would require some developers seeking tax breaks from Detroit to negotiate with residents about the impact of their project on the environment, affordable housing and other issues.

A group, called Rise Together Detroit, collected 5,460 signatures to put the measure on the November ballot, the Detroit Free Press reports (https://on.freep.com/29lbAAk ).

The petition has been certified by the city clerk, but a newly formed group called the Committee for Detroit Jobs challenged the petition’s certification, saying that nearly 2,000 of the signatures are invalid. A decision on the challenge is pending.

Backers of the ordinance say it’s a tool to give Detroiters a much-needed voice in new developments that will shape their neighborhoods.

“We are watching changes happen in Detroit so quickly and we are confident that the growth will continue,” City Council President Brenda Jones wrote in a letter published Friday in the Free Press. “However, we need to raise our standards of what we deserve when we invest our land or tax dollars.

“We deserve better than trinkets that don’t hold up after the development is complete.”

Jones has advocated for a community benefits ordinance for several years, but city council hasn’t voted on an ordinance proposed in 2014.

The ordinance would require developers with a project of $15 million or more seeking a subsidy of at least $300,000 to meet with community members to reach a so-called community benefits agreement. Developers who break the agreement could have their tax breaks denied or terminated.

The host community would be defined by the Census tract or tracts affected by activities of the development.

Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration opposes the proposed ordinance because “it will drive jobs away from the city of Detroit,” said Charlie Beckham, Duggan’s group executive for the department of neighborhoods.

Beckham, in a statement, expressed concern about how the community would be represented. He said the mayor generally supports community benefits, noting that Duggan’s administration has negotiated more than a dozen “major deals” with such benefits since 2014.


Information from: Detroit Free Press, https://www.freep.com

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