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Bill boosting RDA's transit-oriented development role will have to wait until next year
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Bill boosting RDA's transit-oriented development role will have to wait until next year

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Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Indiana state capital.

A state bill that would have empowered the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority to create nonprofit local development corporations to support transit-oriented development was left languishing as the General Assembly ended its session early Thursday.

A second bill increasing the size of the RDA’s Board of Directors received legislative approval, though.

House Bill 1279, authored by state Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, would have allowed the RDA to create nonprofit local development entities to engage directly with property owners and private companies that have an interest in development projects, and to "solicit and accept private or public funding" to promote development in Transit Development Districts, which are in the process of being created by the RDA.

The bill foundered on provisions added in the Senate addressing financing issues with the IndyGo bus service. Those provisions drew strong opposition from some Indianapolis-area legislators. Efforts at compromise did not come to fruition before the legislature adjourned.

The RDA’s president and CEO, Bill Hanna, said Thursday supporters of the measure would regroup and try again.

“We plan to come back next year,” Hanna said. “We’ll spend time developing it further. All these things are long-term.”

The RDA and its consultants are currently engaged with communities that host, or will host, rail stations to draw the Transit Development District boundaries, which can initially cover one-half square mile. Within those districts, growth in property and local income taxes will be collected to help kick-start development.

During the legislative process, the South Bend-based North Central Regional Development Authority was added to the bill to authorize it to create local development entities too.

The other bill, Senate Bill 367, would add one member to the RDA board from each of Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties to vote on issues impacting their county. The current RDA board has seven members, with two appointed by the governor and one each by Lake County, Porter County, Hammond, East Chicago and Gary.

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