Canton to vote again on Village Center

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CANTON – At a special town meeting July 12, residents voted down every article on the warrant concerning the new village center because of a concern over higher taxes.

Residents on Friday will get a chance to hear more about the village during a hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. The hearing will be followed by a special town meeting to vote again on the previous warrant.

Residents can also get specific answers to their questions about the planned village development during a question and answer session at 1 p.m. today at the town office.

Special Projects Committee members will be on hand to answer questions and provide facts about the plan.

The wording on one article left voters thinking they would be taxed by the water district to repay a loan from the Rural Development Infrastructure Loan that is necessary to install the village water system, according Canton Administrative Assistant Kathy Hutchins.

The loan will be paid back when new homeowners in the village start paying taxes, Hutchins said.

The first article voted down by residents was to designate the area as an Affordable Housing District that totals 31.1 acres and consists of five parcels of land purchased by the town in 2006-2007.

In order to utilize some of the loan/grant funds, the town needs to designate the development as an ‘affordable housing district.’ This means that for a period of time, say 30 years, the town agrees that a portion of the houses will be only sold to people who make $60,000 a year or less.

Residents at the town meeting also chose to reject the Affordable Housing Development plan, which says it fits the town’s comprehensive plan, is not in conflict with the municipal charter, will have 40 single-family homes and some multi-family structures that may house up to 12 apartments, and is consistent with state requirements on residential use.

The article that caused the most concern has been reworded to see if the town will vote to “designate a minimum of $29,000 per year of tax revenues (from the affordable Housing Subdivision) to the Canton Water District to be applied to the repayment of the RDI loan …”

The town has already received grants from the Rural Development Infrastructure for $721,300, a state grant for $500,000 and a Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston Grant for $400,000. This is money that does not have to be repaid.

A Community Development Block Grant is expected next year for $500,000, as is a Maine State Housing Authority Subdivision grant for $300,000.

If the town decides to kill the project, the town can use the $500,000 from the state to pay back the MSHA loan of $486,000, according to Diane Ray, special projects director.

It can’t be done later, Ray said. If the town takes the money and puts in the infrastructure, but doesn’t build a single house, the improved lots can be sold to pay back the Rural Development loan.

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