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Business Tax Incentive, Town Money Transfer Approved



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The Board of Finance (BOF) conducted a hybrid meeting on March 25, with some members joining in person at the Municipal Center and others online.

On the agenda was the discussion and possible action for a business incentive program for 201 South Main Street and the town transfer of $47,000 from Contingency to Public Works’ account.

Country Camper

Economic Development Chair (EDC) Wes Thompson started off the discussion saying, “We’re here tonight asking for your support for the business incentive for Country Camper LLC for property located at 201 South Main Street.”

He mentioned that the company currently has two locations, one in Vermont and the other in New Hampshire, and is looking to open a third location in Connecticut.

“They are considering several Connecticut locations, so it’s a competitive situation that drives us towards the incentive, as well as the property itself,” Thompson said. “Cristal [Preszler, deputy director for Economic and Community Development] and the EDC have been working together for many weeks on this.”

He explained that the business incentive was reviewed and unanimously approved by the EDC on March 10, and by the Board of Selectmen on March 15.

Preszler presented a slideshow for everyone to see and introduced Logan and Layne Gregoire of Country Camper, who were on the call.

She explained that the Gregoires are in the preliminary stages of looking to construct a 31,000-square-foot building at 201 South Main Street. The application also includes a 218,000-square-foot area for storing vehicles.

“They anticipate bringing 15 jobs to 45 jobs — obviously over time, as things ramp up — to the community, which is a positive, wonderful thing for the town… They are looking to spend $7 million between the purchase and construction of the property, so that’s certainly a significant investment in the community,” Preszler said.

She offered some background about the property, which was previously home to Georgia Pacific and Blue Linx — the latter of which had its building collapse under the weight of snow. She noted that Counter Camper would not be purchasing the cell tower nearby.

Country Camper’s conceptual renderings of the building depict a showroom as well as maintenance bays.

Logan explained to the board how his family’s business started in 1996 with his father and mother, Layne and Cindy.

“We have a growing consumer base, and hence we have a need, not only from a sales side but also from the service piece as well, to continue our expansion. We are a great family-owned and -operated business, and we think that this can be mutually beneficial for not only Newtown, but for us,” Logan said.

BOF member John Madzula II was happy with the building renderings and said, “I think it’s a great idea, and I’m all for it.”

Logan mentioned that it has been great working with Claris Construction in Newtown for the project.

BOF Vice Chair Sandy Roussas asked how Country Camper has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Logan explained that prior to the pandemic in March 2020, the business was “trending up tremendously over our competitors” and that afterwards, they did have to make adjustments due to state and federal regulations.

He went on to say that “camping has been brought to the forefront as an avenue to safely travel around and work within a contained area but also explore our country” and that they are “selling at an all-time high.”

BOF member Matthew Mihalcik said he feels that this business would be great use of the 201 South Main Street property.

Thompson brought up the concept that Country Camper will be a destination that will draw a lot of people to Newtown.

Logan told the board that in addition to the variety of positions that will be offered at Country Camper, they are told the Claris Construction team and subcontractors will have an average of 90 to 120 people employed on the project.

When Preszler began to go over the financials, she added that the property has been vacant for about ten years and that having this business on South Main Street could positively impact traffic towards the Sand Hill Plaza, which has vacant space.

She explained that the current property assessment is $1.245 million, holding the mill rate constant at 34.76.

“What the current property owners are paying now for real estate tax is $43,000 a year,” Preszler said.

She reiterated that Country Camper estimates to invest more than $7 million between the purchase and building of the property, and adding, “When it was analyzed by an assessor, it shows the assessed value would be about $5 million… It’s a $3.8 million increase in assessed value.”

As a result, future real estate taxes would then be $173,000 a year.

Preszler explained, “If the abatement is awarded, because of the change in assessment, it’s eligible for a 45% abatement on the real estate taxes. It’s on the incremental real estate taxes, not the current real estate taxes… so the 45% abatement plus the 1.15 personal property multiplier gives it a 51.75% abatement on the incremental real estate taxes for the property.”

With that in mind, Country Camper would then pay an estimated $106,000. For the seven-year period, the total estimated taxes paid would be roughly $742,000.

The motion allow the business incentive for Country Camper, LLC, at 201 South Main Street passed unanimously.

Town Money Transfer

Town Finance Director Bob Tait gave a breakdown of the proposed money transfer of $47,000 from Contingency to Public Works.

Tait explained that the Public Works transfer from Contingency would be broken down to three specific parts: $7,500 for construction supplies, $30,000 for contractual services, and $10,000 for water and sewer.

Construction supplies would be for more tools and equipment to help with increased drainage and paving activity. There is also a need for more cement and shoring material used in the replacement of basins and drainage pipes. Specific items needed include barricades, cones, yield signs, headsets, chainsaws, and replacement chains.

“Now, these requests for transfers are estimates. We don’t want to underestimate them… It’s not to say that we are going to spend that whole $7,500, but we estimate that that’s a comfortable figure to get us through the fiscal year,” Tait said.

For contractual services, the account budgets for municipal building cleaning, building refuse hauling, pest control, scheduled fire protection services, alarm services, and building maintenance contracts.

According to the transfer request breakdown, reported in the Board of Selectmen’s meeting minutes from March 15, $23,500 would be to address three emergency repairs — the Newtown Municipal Center roof repair, the AC repair in the IT room, and the highway boiler repair — and $5,600 would be for sanitizing due to COVID-19.

The last transfer was for water and sewer, which has two vendors: the Newtown Tax Collector and Aquarion Water Company.

Tait explained this request was for bills based on usage and leakage.

The motion to pass the transfer of $47,000 from Contingency to Public Works passed unanimously.

For more information about upcoming Board of Finance meetings, visit newtown-ct.gov/board-finance.

Cristal Preszler, deputy director for Economic and Community Development, presents preliminary renderings of the building Country Camper plans to construct at 201 South Main Street.
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