The Havre de Grace City Council approved the annexation of the 244.4-acre Green, Ianniello and Patrone properties Monday night, with the possibility each could receive a tax credit.
The council unanimously approved an annexation resolution for the parcels, though Councilman Joe Smith had proposed an amendment eliminating a tax abatement for the site, south of Route 155 and east of Bulle Rock Parkway.
"I'm not opposed to the annexation necessarily; I think it could bring some positive things to the city," Smith said, adding, "What I am opposed to is kind of the casual application of a tax abatement to this annexation."
He said the only answer he has gotten about the need for the tax credit is: "That's what we've always done."
"I question whether this is a good use of our resources," Smith said, noting the city will be facing a difficult budget, and the tax abatement could cost upward of $100,000.
He said his research shows tax abatements typically only work well in revitalization efforts.
If the city gives such an incentive, he said, "I would much rather see it done in a revitalization effort as opposed to a pure land development deal."
His motion for the amendment died for lack of a second.
Councilman Fred Cullum said the council has already held three public hearings on the issue and would have a special vote if 20 percent or more of registered city voters file a petition to overturn the annexation within 45 days.
Councilman Randy Craig also pointed out the owners would only get a 10-year waiver of city property taxes if the site is not developed during that time. Otherwise, the exemption would automatically end after 10 years.
The council introduced a bill that would set the city's tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year. Havre de Grace is proposing keeping its property tax rate at 56 cents per $100 of the assessed value of real estate.
Council members also honored Colleen Webster and Larry O'Neal as co-poet laureates for the city.
Ron Browning, of the Historic Preservation Commission, gave out large metal plaques to several winners of the historic preservation awards: himself; Blue and Lance Arnold; Wanda and Ronald Hirshey and Paul Gravenhorst; and Alice and Michael Boyd.
Darlene Perry was appointed to the historic preservation commission. Robert Angelucci was appointed to the planning commission and Ed Rybczynski was appointed as a planning commission alternate.
This story is updated with a correction to reflect the tax exemption for annexation is only good as long as the property is not developed. Councilman Randy Craig was misquoted in the earlier version of the story.