Huntsville planners considering improvements to Greenbrier corridor

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- We already know the city of Huntsville and its partners have welcomed Polaris into the Limestone County part of the city.

The ATV manufacturer is in the middle of construction on its site and is expected to wrap by the end of the fall 2016 quarter, said Huntsville's mayor, Tommy Battle.

Thursday, the city council gave urban planners the go-ahead to start work on a plan that will fund infrastructure surrounding the property in Huntsville-annexed Limestone County. It involves creating a Tax Increment Finance district, also known as a TIF, out of the more than 7000 acres.

"It's kind of like letting an area pay for itself, if you will," offered Shane Davis, Director of Urban Development. He said a TIF allows for property taxes from an area to go back into that area's own improvement. In this case, it would add sewer, widen Old Highway 20, and work on the new Greenbrier Parkway.

"The TIF district will allow us to finish that project," he said, "and take it all the way to Huntsville Browns-Ferry Road."

Greenbrier Parkway has been in the works for a while, and would essentially connect the I-565 area of Greenbrier Road to I-65. It's under construction now.

All of this infrastructure made possible by a TIF would pave the way for future growth, said Davis.

"We're not forcing development to occur in the area," he said. "We're just trying to create an environment such that development can occur."

The master plan in the Greenbrier corridor involves a school, more industry and commercial development, and housing. A whole community could spring up within the next decade or so. Davis says if approved, this TIF could help that area become an economic driver, especially because Polaris has already made progress and committed to a spot there.

"I think ten years from now, that general area will be very dynamic," he commented.

This TIF is not set in stone. The council approved a resolution to start planning it Thursday, but they will take the issue up again on August 13th for a public hearing.