CAMERON, Mo. — A planned low-income housing project here has finally broken ground this month, and is now free of tax abatements once thought essential by the developer.
The 17-duplex North Star Housing senior complex, located just to the south of the Missouri Veterans Home in Cameron on the city’s south side, could be finished within the next 13 to 15 months, a planner reported.
But perhaps a more relevant move was taken earlier this week by the Cameron City Council, which voted unanimously on Monday night to permit the city to rescind property and sales tax abatements originally intended to lower the project’s costs.
Concerned individual residents of Cameron came forward without the aid of an organized group to express their opposition to the plan as initially announced, saying the revenue was required for vital operations by public entities such as the city’s school district and county government. Those opponents now say they’re satisfied the tax abatements — approved in April — have been removed and will thus ensure continued funding for the services. Yet they added the maneuver should never have been promoted in the first place.
“We feel pretty good that our local tax entities will receive taxes,” said Roger Foreman, vice chairman for the Cameron Veterans Home Assistance League. “At this point, we’re very pleased.”
Supporters of the project say veterans housed at the state facility will have the opportunity to move into the duplexes. Opponents, on the other hand, also decried an effort by the planners that would have defined the site as a blighted area that would help fulfill a stipulation for its redevelopment.
Opponents also said they no longer intend to protest the construction, now that the abatements are gone.
“At this point, it’s a done deal,” said Foreman.
Another concerned resident, Gary Summers, said there is still a certain amount of confusion over who is heading up the work. The construction is being done under the auspices of the Missouri National Guard Association.
“They own it, and they’re going to get the federal subsidies,” said Foreman of the association.
Summers said he wonders about the criteria that will determine which veterans qualify for a duplex.
With the abatements removed, some residents believe a lawsuit filed by Clinton County against Cameron over that issue and the blight designation could become moot. However, Clinton County Clerk David Woody told News-Press NOW the County Commission has chosen not to comment, but will meet with an attorney on Tuesday to discuss the legal status of the suit.
Joel Denney, who sits on the association’s board of directors, said work will continue through the winter and that the estimated completion is dependent on favorable weather.
“We’re proud of it,” he said.
Denney admitted concern over the county’s lawsuit was a factor in the change of heart over the tax abatements.
“I think it was the best course of action,” he added.
Cameron City Manager Steve Rasmussen recommended the elimination of the tax abatements based on talks with the association.
“That is essentially a private developer,” Rasmussen said, noting the city now no longer has any tangible connection to the project.
Earthmoving was ongoing at the site Thursday, despite intermittent rain showers that descended on Cameron at midday. A celebration will be held once the complex is declared ready to be opened up for tenants.