Tax abatement, Roseland Road buffer set for vote at Sebastian council tonight

SEBASTIAN – The Sebastian City Council is expected to approve two ordinances at its meeting tonight after holding public hearings. One issue has to do with business incentives while the other pertains to vegetation between the airport and Roseland neighbors.

The tax abatement ordinance would give the local government the ability to offer tax breaks to businesses that bring in new jobs, while the Roseland Road buffer ordinance would make official a 50-foot swath of vegetation separating the road from the Sebastian Municipal Airport. The public is invited to speak on the two issues at the Sebastian City Council meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m.

The Roseland Road buffer serves as a transition from the airport to the residential community and was supposed to be included in the airport’s master plan when it was created in 2002.

However, city officials inadvertently left it off the plan. It wasn’t until recently that anyone questioned the official existence of the buffer.

A business had placed a sign within the buffer area, sparking questions as to why the buffer had not been mapped out.

There is no requirement in the ordinance to compel the city to plant more vegetation within the buffer to replace plants that have died or are dying.

However, the city could choose to do so if it wanted to.

Under the ordinance, the city would have the right to eradicate invasive and exotic plants from the buffer and remove dead material.

The public hearing and final vote on the tax abatement ordinance is the next in a series of steps the city must go through before being able to offer tax breaks to new and expanding businesses.

As it stands, the proposed plan would allow businesses in certain industries that offer 10 or more jobs qualify for the tax breaks.

The businesses could have their property taxes frozen at their current rate for a period of time – up to one decade – depending on how many jobs and what level of pay those businesses offer.

The city has identified several industries it would like to attract to the area, including clean light industrial, aviation and aerospace technology, marine, eco-tourism related businesses, and green initiatives.

Voters in Sebastian overwhelmingly approved granting power to the city council to offer tax breaks to certain businesses.

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