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June 05. 2013 12:14AM

Manchester aldermen sign off on $35,000 restaurant loan

MANCHESTER — The aldermen have signed off on a $35,000 loan to the downtown restaurant XO on Elm Street, following a spirited defense of the decision by representatives of the Manchester Development Corporation.

The MDC board voted to approve the loan, which was atypical because it went to an existing business that was struggling to stay afloat.

MDC board member Sean Owen said that the organization carefully weighed the decision whether to approve the loan. He stressed that the money does not come from city coffers, but a long-established fund started with seed money from city real estate deals.

The organization operates independently, he said, and it sought approval from the aldermen for loans "as a courtesy."

Alderman-At-Large Dan O'Neil voted to support the loan, but he said he wanted to investigate whether the loan funds are the MDC's own money.

"The money is there based on how the aldermen set it up," he said. "This is the citizens' money."

Alderman and mayoral candidate Patrick Arnold has criticized the loan.

"My question is are we setting a precedent. Other businesses can ask, 'Why isn't everyone getting this,'" Arnold said.

The vote was 11-2, with Arnold and Alderman-At-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur voting against the loan.

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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