FARMINGTON — A small gathering of voters Tuesday approved a Tax Increment Financing district and development program for Woodlands Senior Living.

The special town meeting was needed for voter approval to designate the district and adopt the development program for the proposed 18,500-square-foot memory care center at 175 Knowlton Corner Road.

Development of the district helps the company with financing costs on the estimated $5.6 million project. But, it will also expand the tax base of the town and create employment opportunities for the area, according to information provided for voters at the meeting. 

Other advantages for the town include a larger share of state education aid and municipal revenue sharing. The town will also pay a smaller portion of the Regional School Unit 9 local contribution and county tax than it would if the project’s increase in value had been included in the town’s valuation.

Development of the property is expected to increase the assessed value of taxable property in the district by $4 million. Under the development program, 100 percent of the increased assessed value in the district will be returned to the company for a period of 10 years, January 2017 through December 2026.

The town has assessed the value of the proposed district at $118,000. The district consists of about 40 acres of land owned by the estate of Margaret Heath as well as land owned by Thomas and Janice Daku.

The site presents a significant challenge for development of the memory care center, and a TIF agreement is the only way that it is viable, said Lon Walters, developer of Woodlands Senior Living LLC. 

Development of necessary structures such as water and sewer connections is built into the development’s costs for the company. Though a center built last year in Lewiston is twice the size, the proposed Farmington center has an increase of $800,000 in development costs, Walters said.

The 36-bed center expects to employ 30 full-time and a couple part-time employees, said Matthew Walters, who, along with his father, Lon Walters, is developing the project.

“It is a win-win,” Selectman Stephan Bunker said.

For local families in need of a memory care facility, this will be reduce travel concerns. It will increase the town’s tax base and provide additional employment for the area, he said.

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