Sewers Could Impact Development and Grand List

Town must tackle the decision of whether or not to promote an area with potential for development.

At last night’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Public Works Director Fred Hurley made a presentation suggesting that installing sewers in the Mount Pleasant/ Route 6 area could be an economic boon to the town.

Hurley said if sewers were installed in that area, it could increase the development possibilities at little to no cost to the town.

“The point we are trying to make money is that there will be enough new revenue coming in from assessments or taxes, or a combination of the two ‘that this project could go forward with little or no impact on Town cash flow and substantial new revenue potential.’”

According to Hurley, the area could benefit from installing or hooking up sewers. “When the Homestead came in, all we had to do was build the system, and it was entirely paid for by the subdivision,” he said.

Hurley said that without sewers, development in that area has been a hard sell. “Opportunities have been lost due to the lack of sewers. It has been hard to market that area without additional sewers.” 

Director of Economic and Community Development Liz Stocker said that development in that area is a very relevant topic.

“With sewer capacity, it could increase development potential through zoning, and could actually allow for future development. There has even been discussions to allow multifamily housing.”

However, Hurley warned, “There is no guarantee there is enough revenue to fund the project. If that undeveloped land can hold that value, we need to know that. But if it can’t, we need to know that, too.” 

Hurley said that he believes that development there has the potential to broaden the tax base.  

First Selectman Patricia Llodra said that about nine months ago, “We started looking at our Grand List to see how we compare with other communities in our District Reference Group.”

She said that with the exception of Madison, Newtown was unique in that “only 7.4% of our Grand List comes from a commercial/industrial base.”

With concern for developing the rural area, Llodra said, “Unless we are willing to challenge that, we are not going to tackle this larger issue of taxation.”

“Growth has to be managed very carefully, and I think we can do that,” she said. “We have to be willing to see our area of town being primed for development.”

Llodra noted that Exit 9 is the last real viable exit for purchase off of Interstate 84. “We have to really look at this and raise the hard issues, look at the impact on the town’s culture, community, the values," she said. "We have to put that all on the table.” 

After the meeting, Rev. Barry Fredericks, of the Grace Family Church, said that installing sewers in that area of town would be an asset to their moving forward with building a new church.  

Claudia Cooper September 18, 2012 at 10:41 AM
They say that development will increase the tax base, yet it will also change the face of Newtown, and then people will say it's just not the same. Are we sure we want this? Because it's a slippery slope.
John September 18, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Let's change Newtown for the better. Great study by Pat ! 7.4% of grand list needs to be improved.
Liam Heller September 18, 2012 at 01:01 PM
We need to halt the raise in taxes, if not lower them to a more tolerable level. Bringing sewers into as many areas as needed, in order to bring in more businesses, which would take the tax burden off of the residents, the better! This town keeps putting in development housing. That has to be offset by commerce, in order to keep it affordable to live here.
Liam Heller September 18, 2012 at 01:06 PM
The area off Exit 9, is right at the border of Newtown and Brookfield. There's nothing there. It's in the furthest, Western corner of Newtown. How would that change the face of Newtown?
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com September 18, 2012 at 02:10 PM
I'm not sure Mr. Hurley is qualified to be leading our economic development effort. We need a plan not haphazard ideas when someone whispers into someone ear. Just how many development areas does Newtown want and how many can we support at one time. And who really benefits from the expenses, is it the taxpayer or is it the construction companies and the commercial real estate agents.Those are the signs I see on Mr Pleasant Road. Can we develop Fairfield Hills, Sandy Hook. Hawleyville, Dodgingtown, The Borough and now Exit 9 all at the same time? Maybe, but you better show the taxpayer the money, verses going on a spending spree with future revenue.
Donna C September 18, 2012 at 04:33 PM
I wish the town would look internally and fix its secondary roads instead of worrying about sewers. The roads are horrible and an embarrassment to the community.
Randy Pineau September 18, 2012 at 07:09 PM
@Claudia - we can develop commercial zones ... The idea would be to keep the residential zones separate and quaint. @Bruce - At least Fred is thinking in the right direction. The concept is simple enough and seems worth pursuing, and there must be a formula for this. Why didn't Liz present this? Strange that we're just now discovering that most of our tax base comes from the property owners.@Donna - you are correct. Squeaky wheels get the grease in our town.
Liam Heller September 19, 2012 at 01:59 AM
I think that since there's such a hold-up on Fairfield Hills and no earthly idea or time-frame as to what's going to happen there... The only true place for Newtown to bring in new business, is that large wooded area by Exit 9. And when companies DO show an interest in that spot, they can't or won't build there, because there's no sewers. We're missing out on a tax revenue, because toilets can't be flushed, because Newtown is too cheap to put pipes in the ground. Yeah, our roads all over town are terrible. They're wretched. They're an embarrassment to drive over. But we've got mothers all over town wanting more money put towards the schools for their little babies and they certainly feel happy to raise the taxes for THAT. It's high time we finally spend some money so that we can MAKE some money, so that we don't have to raise our taxes every year. I'm tired of people choosing to raise our taxes only to get something for themselves! It's high time we spend some of this money with PROFIT in mind. Raising taxes is merely a temporary Band-Aid that only hurts the residents. When the taxes go too high, people can't afford to live here. When they try to move, they can't sell their homes because no one wants to come into a town with sky high taxes. Catch-22.
Neil Baldino September 19, 2012 at 02:02 AM
I second the idea of fixing the secondary roads. I've been asking Mr. Hurley now for three years when my road will be paved, and every year I get the same story, "Oh it's in the budget for this summer". Well, we are now entering into Fall and no paving.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com September 19, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Only if the cost/revenue model works. As a homeowner i paid for the cost of sewers which service my homes, I hope that is also the case for commercial development.
Liam Heller September 19, 2012 at 05:15 PM
I'm sure they'd have the same "Sewer Tax" we currently have to pay for. But they're not gonna' pay to install them. Would you? Today's fledgling companies, in this lousy economy, are not going to invest into town infrastructure by spending over 5 million dollars to do something that the town should be doing themselves. If we want permanent businesses to relocate here and of course thrive, we can't force them to dump THAT kind of capital into their business.
Big Family September 19, 2012 at 06:29 PM
This is the approach that is needed in Newtown, if we spend money there is a return for the money spent. Secondary roads can be repaired for now and paved later, let us apply this idea that money can be spent for the betterment of the town as a whole and not just throw dollars at education or municipal wants. Increasing the commercial tax base in Newtown is a NEED and the board is absolutely doing their job and on the right path. I hope the same thought process will be applied to the Hawley School (maybe soon to be) mess.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com September 24, 2012 at 12:03 PM
The article in the paper said several developers have expressed interest, who are they? It also said some developers took a pass on the property, who were they? Is it the same developer and real estate agent who keep offering deals up at Fairfield Hills. I agree with spend money to make money, but lets make sure we are not looking at voodo economics here. In my mind one of thebest investm,ents is actually education and it provides a huge payback to society in the long run.
Sam Mihailoff September 24, 2012 at 12:20 PM
I agree...way too much sewage in the school system currently
Big Family September 24, 2012 at 03:54 PM
I agree education is a great investment when the system is run properly by competent and committed people (I'm speaking about administrators) All we have here year in and year out are bigger budgets and more taxes when do we see the payback? According to Po our kids are almost illiterate and our town is not suitable to live in because we don't spend enough. Again, when do see the payback because according to some we never reach the goals in our education system...when is it enough?
Liam Heller September 24, 2012 at 06:01 PM
From whom I've spoken to about this, the businesses that had proposed interest, had nothing to do with the people who're also interested in Fairfield hills. There were a few completely different prospects. One was a batting cage company, a chain restaurant and I forget the other one that I heard. But I know there were even more.
Liam Heller September 24, 2012 at 06:02 PM
And as far as putting more money into schools... *sigh*... I really gotta' say.... From *MY* perspective... Having the mentality of flooding a school with taxpayer money, that it will somehow allow the kids to learn more or with greater ease, is pretty much on par with the same philosophy of putting a Band-Aid over an open sore, that was caused by an internal infection. There are deeper problems in public schools, that NO amount of money could EVER possibly sooth. The human mind hasn't changed AT ALL, since the dawn of recorded human history. And the where I'm coming from, is from study the course of how governments and countries keep repeating the same mistakes generation after generation... Or how people keep insisting on trying to do the same thing, the same way, over and over again, even though they know damn well it didn't work before.
Liam Heller September 24, 2012 at 06:02 PM
By spending a butt-load of money on new computer monitors, better organic food, Smartboards, more teachers/less kids in the classrooms, providing air conditioning or a new furnace, etc... It's not going to magically make a child listen better. It's not going to miraculously make a child WANT to learn. It's not going to allow the day to flow faster and more efficiently. Get rid of teacher's unions and allow the teachers to teach. Revolutionize how children are separated into "classes" and stop assuming that their age is ANY indicator of what level of learning they're capable of. Stop branding them with the belief that they need to begin setting themselves up for college as soon as they're in middle school. Allow children to express themselves creatively, instead of forcing them all to follow a single curriculum that's controlled by a governing body! Let the TEACHERS teach and keep the government the HELL out of schools! Allowing an excess of money to flow through a public school, is going to accomplish NOTHING except give those who have access to that money, a means to waste it. "Stupid in America"... http://youtu.be/Bx4pN-aiofw
Liam Heller September 24, 2012 at 06:02 PM
You want more money for schools? You want more money for the roads? You want more money to relocate the police station? You want more money to maintain the parks? You want more money to put air conditioning into Hawley? You want more money to renovate Fairfield Hills the way you want? Then put sewers into the areas where we can entice commercial businesses into Newtown, so that THEY can pay our taxes and THEY can provide us with the revenue to do all these things, without taking money out of OUR pockets.
Claudia Cooper October 07, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Why do you think that increased development will lower our taxes? Look at neighboring Monroe, which is clogged up and down Rt. 25 and Rt. 111 now. Are their taxes any lower? I don't think so.
Liam Heller October 07, 2012 at 02:26 PM
When a business moves into a town, it doesn't bring children along with it, who need to be enrolled in schools or be driven back and forth on buses. If there isn't any extra strain on the town budget to accommodate the needs that a family would demand, then those taxes go straight to paying for what we've been paying, as families. Taxes placed onto businesses are the equivalent of "free money" to the town. That money goes directly into the town's needs, without the side-effects. Monroe's commercial section (up and down route 25 and that small section of 111) have been that way for decades. It's zoned that way. Their planning and zoning department chose to keep it that way. The rest of Monroe is mostly residential, with hidden industrial/office parks scattered here and there. Their taxes ARE lower than Newtown's and their residents aren't shouldering nearly ALL of their tax burden themselves, like we are here in Newtown.
Liam Heller October 07, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Monroe has more to offer to their residents, by having more money available from their taxes. It's the businesses that allow that. Not that their budgets get approved all the time, but at least they HAVE the money to throw around. WE don't. Yet somehow we have the money to waste, with no accountability as to where it's gone??? >: \ I'd prefer have more business here, to offset OUR expenses. If it'll keep our taxes getting raised unnecessarily AGAIN, even with a 1.3 million dollar surplus that's laid in our laps AFTER the residents voted to raise our taxes!!! >: ( Town's NEVER lower taxes, even when they promise they will. Once they've got that money, they ALWAYS find another way to spend it. >: ( Which is why we need to do whatever WE can, to make sure our taxes stop getting raised unnecessarily, AGAIN.


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