21 Aug 2014
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Sewers Could Impact Development and Grand List

Town must tackle the decision of whether or not to promote an area with potential for development.

Sewers Could Impact Development and Grand List

At last night’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Public Works Director Fred Hurley made a presentation suggesting that installing sewers in the Mount Pleasant/ Route 6 area could be an economic boon to the town.

Hurley said if sewers were installed in that area, it could increase the development possibilities at little to no cost to the town.

“The point we are trying to make money is that there will be enough new revenue coming in from assessments or taxes, or a combination of the two ‘that this project could go forward with little or no impact on Town cash flow and substantial new revenue potential.’”

According to Hurley, the area could benefit from installing or hooking up sewers. “When the Homestead came in, all we had to do was build the system, and it was entirely paid for by the subdivision,” he said.

Hurley said that without sewers, development in that area has been a hard sell. “Opportunities have been lost due to the lack of sewers. It has been hard to market that area without additional sewers.” 

Director of Economic and Community Development Liz Stocker said that development in that area is a very relevant topic.

“With sewer capacity, it could increase development potential through zoning, and could actually allow for future development. There has even been discussions to allow multifamily housing.”

However, Hurley warned, “There is no guarantee there is enough revenue to fund the project. If that undeveloped land can hold that value, we need to know that. But if it can’t, we need to know that, too.” 

Hurley said that he believes that development there has the potential to broaden the tax base.  

First Selectman Patricia Llodra said that about nine months ago, “We started looking at our Grand List to see how we compare with other communities in our District Reference Group.”

She said that with the exception of Madison, Newtown was unique in that “only 7.4% of our Grand List comes from a commercial/industrial base.”

With concern for developing the rural area, Llodra said, “Unless we are willing to challenge that, we are not going to tackle this larger issue of taxation.”

“Growth has to be managed very carefully, and I think we can do that,” she said. “We have to be willing to see our area of town being primed for development.”

Llodra noted that Exit 9 is the last real viable exit for purchase off of Interstate 84. “We have to really look at this and raise the hard issues, look at the impact on the town’s culture, community, the values," she said. "We have to put that all on the table.” 

After the meeting, Rev. Barry Fredericks, of the Grace Family Church, said that installing sewers in that area of town would be an asset to their moving forward with building a new church.  

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