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Londonderry drafts TIF plan for Pettengill Road development

Union Leader Correspondent

August 02. 2013 8:06PM

LONDONDERRY — A warrant article asking voters to allow tax increment financing (TIF) to help develop Pettengill Road could appear on the March 2014 ballot, town officials said this week.

Though there’s much work to be done before then, the Londonderry Town Council is working closely with contractor Stuart Arnett, an economic development project manager, to research funding options over the coming months.

During Thursday night’s Town Council meeting, Arnett shared details of a drafted plan of how TIF could be used to bring development to Pettengill Road.

According to John Vogl, geographic information system manager for the town of Londonderry, the immediate plan is to construct a four-lane roadway that would open up about 1,000 acres of land both north and south of the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

The area is full of development possibilities, he noted, as its readily accessible to both the airport and all major highways, as well as public utilities.

Public Works Director Janusz Czyzowksi said it would take around two years to complete the road and extend public utilities once project funding is secured.

When completed, Pettengill Road is expected to bring up to 10,000 new jobs to the area. An unidentified company has already approached the town with intentions of building a 200,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution facility, planning officials revealed last month.

Total project costs for Pettengill Road are estimated at around $13 million. The town is currently awaiting word on the status of an application for an $8.2 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant that, if approved, would fully fund the construction of the proposed roadway and give more businesses added incentive to set up shop in town.

However, Vogl said the chances of obtaining this grant are extremely slim due to its competitive nature.

Arnett said the plan now is to further develop a TIF proposal, with the Town Council to hold several public meetings to polish those plans over the next two months.

“It’s a very significant tool and probably the best one available to local government,” he told the council. “The main goal of a TIF program is to accelerate bond pay-down, which is especially important as it saves taxpayer money.”

Town Council Chairman John Farrell said he’d like to see “more skin in the game” on the state’s behalf, noting there was much talk in previous years about Londonderry receiving economic stimulus funds to accelerate the Pettengill development, but that didn’t happen.

“The time is now for us to arrange meetings with (the state Department of Revenue and Economic Development) and other state officials,” Farrell said. “We have some things in our pipeline I’m not even sure the state is aware of.”

Councilor Tom Dolan agreed.

“Acceleration is the key word for this effort,” he said. “We also want to keep our property taxes low, hopefully make them lower.”

The ultimate goal, Arnett said, would be to pay off the TIF bond over 10 years rather than 20.

Timeliness is essential, he noted, since the TIF plan would defer the project’s new revenue until pay-off.

TIF funding wouldn’t affect the town’s actual tax rates and property assessments would remain the same, Stuart said. Once the bond is paid off, the developed area is no longer considered a TIF district.

TIF funding has been used in dozens of Granite State towns, including Bedford and Derry.

Stuart said he expects the process to be a lengthy one for Londonderry.A second reading of the proposed plan will take place during the Aug. 19 Town Council meeting, with a third reading to take place at another upcoming meeting.

From there, town officials will plan public meetings with both the Londonderry School Board and the county commissioners.

“It’s important to have support from all the colleagues,” Arnett said.

With the board’s approval, the town would then identify a district administrator for the TIF plan and form a local advisory board.

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