Atlantic Developer Don Sonntag Wednesday, decided to pull his application for $250,000 in Tax Increment Financing funds from the City, which would have helped to bankroll a housing development on the City’s southern edge. In a letter he read before the council and provided to the media, Sonntag said since a meeting pertaining to TIF funds for the Southern Heights II project was held on November 30th, 2012 between himself, his grandson Austin, Attorney Dave Chase, and City Administrator Doug Harris, Harris has apparently been working behind the scenes to “Derail the project.”
Those efforts, according to Sonntag, included negative talking points about the project in City Council members’ packets. Sonntag said also he believes “Conversations were made with individuals from the public who would be opposed to using TIF funds for the project, and were given encouragement to speak out against it..” Sonntag said even if the Council were to have recommended the TIF request be used for the project, he has “A strong feeling that drafting of a TIF agreement with the City Administrator, of (sic) who has been opposed every step of the way, would be very difficult and suspect of major risk for us financially going forward with this project.” Sonntag went on to say “past experience of his (Harris’) actions and characteristics leave us skeptical on what other roadblocks may arise in further into the process and project.”
He concluded by saying “I do not believe our present City Administrator has the same goals for Atlantic as some of us and therefore, I find the need to step back, stopping the process, and discontinuing my efforts on this project.” He said he deeply regrets “The loss of jobs that could have been created,” had the project moved forward. City Administrator Doug Harris was not present at Wednesday night’s meeting.
Afterward, Mayor Dave Jones said he differs from Harris, who’s TIF philosophy, according to Jones is “Not all development is good for the City.” Jones says “No development is not good for the City.”