Seeding And Tending Economic Development
If you missed our recent front page reports, there are a couple of new and fruitful municipal economic development projects accelerating, with several more vying to take root and get some public airing in the coming weeks.
For some time now, the community — under the volunteer guidance of our capable Economic Development Commission, the support of Newtown’s Office of Economic and Community Development, and the experts in our Land Use and Planning departments — has been reaping modest benefits for residential taxpayers as Newtown has been attracting, promoting, and/or supporting sensible commercial growth.
A slow but steady shift of taxation from residential to commercial property owners may seem like the glacial passage of sand between top and bottom chambers of a 100-year hourglass. But in terms of goal setting — and achieving — on the part of community leaders and our economic development team, the playing field is finally leveling for those writing checks to cover local property taxes .
Equating each grain of sand in that hourglass to a dollar in property taxes local residents no longer have to ante up to underwrite the cost of municipal and educational services may be a more appropriate illustration. Because for every new commercial development — with or without some modest short-term relief through Newtown’s business incentive plan — a proportional amount of taxes shifts away from resident property owners.
Newtown’s residential taxpayers are seeing the top half of that hourglass, representing the proportion of their burden, becoming emptier by the day, while new commercial developers and existing businesses that choose to expand here are covering more of their fair share because they clearly see Newtown as a community to invest in and call home.
One incoming commercial neighbor is Country Camper, a Vermont-based RV sales and service facility that will finally bring the long vacant South Main Street BlueLinx parcel back to life. Another initiative will see the large and dormant commercial facility that formerly housed the Hubbell Corporation converted into a distribution facility for Kimball Midwest, an Ohio-based, family-owned industrial supplier. An incentive plan request involving that project has been approved, and Kimball West’s final decision to take over the facility came this week.
Also expected soon is news of whether any viable developers have been qualified for an ambitious residential/commercial mixed conversion of one or more salvageable Fairfield Hills buildings, and the announcement of a developer at Newtown’s former tech park off Commerce Road. More good news may be on the way for Hawleyville, where another huge tract of developable commercial land, recently tied to high capacity sewer service, is ready for prime time.
Some may lament that Newtown is losing its rural/suburban character to commercial development. But the slowly shifting tax offset has been a long time coming for those who have been paying more than their fair share.
Everyone should be happy to see commercial tax base expansion happening before property tax increases chase away the very thing that makes Newtown so attractive to commercial prospects in the first place: you, our treasured residents.