TIF committee meets in light of town vote

by Mary Grow

Four members of China’s TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Committee met Nov. 9 to consider future projects in light of town voters’ Nov. 8 decisions on local issues.

Three questions affecting the committee’s projects were on the Nov. 8 ballot. Voters approved two of the three, appropriating up to $10,000 to buy land at the head of China Lake and $50,000 for the China Four Seasons Club’s trail maintenance work.

They rejected proposed amendments to China’s Land Development Code that included, among other issues, changes that would have allowed building a boardwalk over the water at the head of the lake where fishermen now congregate on the shore.

The trail work will be primarily the responsibility of the Four Seasons Club, overseen by the committee and the board of selectmen, and need not be a major topic at future meetings, committee members agreed.
The project at the head of the lake, often called the causeway project, is a major committee endeavor. The next step is to schedule a pre-application meeting with state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) staff.

Engineer Mark McCluskey, of A. E. Hodson, brought committee members a letter to DEP asking for the meeting, with attached documentation. He expects the meeting between DEP staff and committee members will be during normal Monday through Friday working hours, rather than in the evening.

Committee members agreed he should send the letter, even if they have to wait until the March town meeting to try again to get voters to approve changes in shoreland requirements to make the project possible.

Joann Austin, who is both a TIF Committee member and a selectman, urged going ahead with the land purchase even without assurance of the rest of the proposed work. Buying the land will let the town own and improve the area across Causeway Street from the board landing where boaters already park. Tentative plans include paving the area and adding stormwater runoff controls.

Also discussed was the broader possibility of relocating the China Village fire station to the piece of land on Lakeview Drive that voters on Nov. 8 accepted as a gift; removing the current fire station and making a parking lot west of China Baptist Church; and acquiring the present church parking area east of the church as part of the causeway project.

Other projects committee members are considering include:

  • Deciding whether to set aside a small amount of TIF money for a revolving loan fund to help local businesses start or expand, and if the fund is to be established, adopting policies and procedures for it.
  • Considering extending the TIF program to add the new Central Maine Power Co. substation off Route 3. The current program gets its income from taxes on the expanded CMP power line through town; selectmen as well as committee members are talking about adding the new CMP property. Were the TIF application to the state to be amended, the program might also be extended from its current 20 years to the maximum 30 years.
  • Discussing whether to recommend the town acquire the former Fairpoint building on Route 3, which committee members and some of the selectmen have suggested could serve a variety of purposes.
    Committee members tentatively agreed to meet again Monday evening, Nov. 21, to continue discussion of some or all of those ideas.

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