ELIOT, Maine — The Tax Increment Financing Committee is again looking to extend public sewer lines along Route 236, the Harold Dow Highway.
The committee will ask the Select Board to help support an infrastructure pricing study.
The original TIF agreement, approved in 2009 by voters, created a list of properties along Route 236 that would provide support for infrastructure improvement to support development. Property taxes on improvements to those properties are held in a TIF fund that would pay for sewer, water and other improvements. The compressed natural gas pipeline pumping station is the most valuable of those properties. Over the 30-year life of the TIF agreement, Town Manager Dana K. Lee said about $20 million will be available or construction.
However, voters have never approved construction of sewer on Route 236. Last year, the Select Board presented an article to change the name of the TIF district, remove some properties from the list on Route 236, and add some in the “village” area. Voters also approved removing any planning for sewer on Route 236 from the agreement.
The TIF Committee and Select Board held a joint workshop Tuesday night when the committee presented recommendations for TIF planning.
Vice Chair Ed Henningsen read the report, which he wrote. He said three small properties near the intersection of State and Moses Gerrish roads, the locations of the Eliot Meet Market, Gateway Gas and the former post office, are too small for development and already have buildings.
“The TIF is about economic development,” Henningsen said. “These three properties don't pose a lot of opportunities and already have businesses on them. There are parking issues. Leave them alone.”
Another new location is Frost Tufts Park. He said the park has 7.5 acres, but is without river frontage. It would need rezoning for commercial development, and access is via the residential Old Road.
The largest new property, a 77-acre parcel between State Road and Route 236, is half fields and half woods, with many vernal pools and year-round ponds. It would need two points of egress. The committee considered it for off-site parking for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and/or eco-tourism.
The TIF Committee’s report listed the benefits for new infrastructure on Route 236 including water mains for fire hydrants, upgraded electrical and broadband service, and it states “Sewer is definitely needed on the corridor.”
To provide voters with information, the TIF Committee wants to contract with Underwood Engineers for $7,500 to provide budgets for water and sewer construction to the village area and along Route 236, and road access, lighting and sidewalks in the village area. But since the committee cannot plan for sewer on Route 236, Underwood said it would provide the pricing for areas outside Route 236 for $5,500. Henningsen said the TIF Committee will ask the Select Board for the remaining $2,000 so the report can contain the pricing information for Route 236 construction.
“The committee is pretty much in agreement that it does not make sense not to put sewer down 236,” Henningsen said on Wednesday. “It does not make sense to extend sewer to the village center and Frost Tufts for eco-tourism proposes.”
He added the town would be going into residential areas and calling it economic development, but Route 236 is only logical place for development.
Several committee members expressed hope that with the South Eliot sewer pumping stations now repaired and out of the mix, voters would approve changing the TIF agreement to include sewer expansion on Route 236.
The TIF Committee looks to have the Underwood study done for a November vote by the town.