OXFORD – Voters at Thursday’s special town meeting agreed to create a tax increment financing district for the Oxford Hills Business Park on Route 26.

The vote will assure that the park’s developer, Western Maine Development, will be repaid for its investment in initial development costs, including construction of a new access road, three phase power, wetland mitigation, signs and engineering costs.

The TIF district will set aside 50 percent of new tax revenue generated from development in the park each year, until Western Maine Development has recovered its $147,500 loan investment.

The other half of new tax revenue will go into the town’s general fund.

The total budget for infrastructure costs is $465,000, but half of that is being covered by a Municipal Investment Trust Fund Grant. Another $85,000 has already been pledged by the town as a match for needed repairs to the Number Six Road, which abuts the 40-acre park property.

The TIF district must still receive final approval from the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development.

Norway Savings Bank announced earlier this year that it has agreed to buy two of the four lots in the park, closest to Route 26, to build a new financial training and processing center over the next 12 to 24 months.

Western Maine Development’s Project Manager Marcy Broughter told voters Thursday that the TIF district designation for the park will end when the $147,500 has been raised. The district has a 20-year life span, but she doubted it would take that long to raise the money.

In fact, she passed out a table that showed that projected revenue from the park could total $784,400 by year 20, based on a build-out value of $4 million for the park as a whole.

A majority of voters thought the investment was well worth it.

“We’re a hurting unit” as far as the economy goes, said resident Archie MacDonald. “I’ve never seen it so bad before in my life.”

Adrien Giroux was concerned that there wasn’t an itemized list of how the $147,500 would be spent. But Broughter said the money will be applied to the total $465,000 budget, which does include specific cost estimates.

Norway Savings Bank initially plans to build a 5,000-square-foot building, designed for future expansion. There is also the possibility of another bank branch and other retail space. The bank plans to employ upward of 100 people at the site over time.

Western Maine Development, doing business at the Oxford Development Corp., is still seeking buyers for the two rear lots.

“Our goal is to sell one lot a year for the next four years,” Broughter said.

She said she plans to have the new access road, connecting Route 26 to the Number Six Road, constructed by this winter.

The Department of Transportation has also agreed to create left and right hand turn lanes on Route 26 to accommodate the project. The funding for the lanes will be included in the upcoming transportation budget.



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