Dickinson's renaissance zone has been renewed with a few changes.

The economic development program was established by the state in 1999 to foster greater reinvestment in central city areas.

"If you see the list from the Division of Community Services, there are cities of all sizes that take advantage of the program," said Steve Josephson, Stark County Planner.

Through the program, property owners have their property tax rates frozen for a period.

"The idea is that people will invest in these properties in older areas. They'll invest something, but then not turn around the next year and get reassessed at an extremely higher rate," Josephson said. "It's hedging that if we give people a tax break over five years not only is it going to revitalize this area, there will be a benefit to the tax base."

Nine projects completed in Dickinson have taking advantage of the program, including the Esquire Club on 43 Sims Street.

The program benefits full rehabilitation of existing lots and properties, but not renovations or undeveloped lots.

Per the code, the original renaissance zone exists for 15 years. The city can then renew it in five-year increments.

"You use it up to a point," Josephson said, "and you may not need it after that period of time, but if cities still have economic development opportunities, you can keep it going."

Dickinson City Commissioners and Stark County Commissioners both approved the renaissance zone renewal in May.

A memorandum of understanding with the state will be completed next.

Several changes have been made to the zone.

Removed from it are City Hall, the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce and a five-block strip on Second Street West along Dickinson State University.

Several blocks on the west end of Villard to State Avenue have been added.

"Some of those are doing well and some of them, it appears, are underperforming," Josephson said. "There have been a couple of buildings in particular where people have come in and they wanted to rent or buy, but they needed to do some improvements to it."

The process is a simple one.

Property owners go to the Planning & Zoning Commission for a public hearing and if approved it goes to the city commissioners.

"If that's approved," Josephson said, "they have five years to complete their project and the cost of the repairs has to equal or exceed what the fair and true value as determined by the city assessor."

He added, "For commercial buildings, it's got to be at least 50 percent of that."

Dickinson City Planner Walter Hadley applauded the renewal of the program.

"I think it's a great program for the city of Dickinson," he said, "and I hope the public takes advantage of it."