HANSON — Selectmen on Tuesday, July 10 voted to support several steps toward supporting economic development in town, particularly in the Main Street (Route 27) corridor.
Among those steps is the process of adopting a Tax Incentive Financing (TIF) program. Guidelines adopted by the board will be used as a roadmap for a TIF Committee — which the board approved — for work in the Main Street area. The TIF program would have to be approved by voters at the October Town Meeting.
The board also voted to declare it as an Economic Opportunity Area (EOA). Selectmen also received information about an Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) letter of intent application for a project at 1101 Main St., authorizing Chairman Kenny Mitchell and Town Administrator Michael McCue to sign it.
McCue also recommended that the TIF Committee include representatives from the Board of Assessors, Planning Board, Finance Committee, the Board of Selectmen and himself. Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett volunteered to sit on the committee, which McCue said would only meet when letters of intent are received. Selectmen voted to appoint FitzGerald-Kemmett to the TIF Committee.
“Like most things I do, it’s an amalgamation of what other towns have done, to include some experience that I’ve had in the past,” McCue said of the TIF guidelines. He added state guidelines have made it easier than was experienced by past communities in which he has worked.
While she voiced support for the TIF program, FitzGerald-Kemmett expressed concern about applicant criteria.
“One of the things I want to make sure of is that it’s somebody that we’ve done due diligence [on], that they’ve got good financials,” she said. “If they are in Hanson that they’ve paid their taxes, that they don’t have building code violations already — in other words, I don’t want to be rewarding people who, basically, haven’t been good business partners, or partners at all with the town.”
McCue said the TIF Committee will be charged with establishing qualification criteria as is also required by the state.
“I’m extremely excited about this,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “This is the first step of what we need to do in order to get things cracking there.”
“I like this stuff, too,” McCue said.
He also provided the board with a map of the EOA area — the former Ocean Spray property — and assessor’s cards on properties within it. That doesn’t mean other parcels could not be added later “as we get more comfortable with the process,” McCue said.
“This is just a start,” he said. “It’s one of the most identifiable potential locations for economic development and it greases the tracks in terms of going before the state to get their approval for any TIFs that we may, on a local level, approve.”
He said it also opens the door for other grants and automatically rolls in benefits, including a credit from the state, to whoever works to develop abandoned or underused properties there.
In other business, Selectmen voted to adopt a fuel-efficient vehicle policy for town departments.
The issue was tabled June 19 after the police and fire department heads expressed concern about their ability to afford continued use of vehicles they now have or purchases of new vehicles in the future. After conversations with the chiefs, McCue said the vehicles they are concerned about were exempted from the policy.
“The real impact will come — and it will — if and when we reach the point where we want to hand a vehicle down [to another department from police or fire], which has been a tradition in town,” McCue said. “However, the benefits far outweigh the detriments in terms of expenses.”
He said Bridgewater has already received $800,000 in various environmental incentive grants over the past five or six years. Cohasset had received $300,000; Easton $750,000; Hanover more than $1 million and Kingston just short of $1 million.
McCue estimated that within the five or six years before he sees Hanson needing to transfer or buy new equipment, the Green Communities grants will “far, far outweigh the expense of picking up a new vehicle.” The fuel efficient vehicle policy and completion of a no-cost National Grid energy efficiency assessment are required to qualify for the Green Communities program, potentially by the end of the fiscal 2019 year.
Selectmen also voted to switch the sponsorship reference of the board as primary applicant of a Plymouth County Hospital/CPC Phase 2 application, which lists the final Plymouth County Hospital Reuse Committee as a secondary applicant. Selectmen will now be secondary applicant with the PCH Reuse Committee as the primary.
FitzGerald-Kemmett, who is the former CPC chairman, said it was the PCH Reuse Committee’s place to come to Selectmen looking for support for their own application to the CPC.