MERIDEN — A proposal that seeks to both revitalize underutilized and vacant properties and to incentivize existing manufacturers to increase their presence in the city is heading back to committee.
The proposal, in its current language, would allow any manufacturing company that operates two facilities in the city and seeks to open a third facility, also in the city, to be eligible for a real estate tax abatement toward that new location.
That abatement, under the proposal, would have an eight-year term. Each abatement would be based on a 25% real estate assessment of the property being considered, according to the proposal.
It was originally presented to the City Council’s Economic Development, Housing and Zoning (EDHZ) Committee on Sept. 20. That committee referred the measure to the council as a whole.
During the council’s discussion on Oct. 4, Councilor Michael Rohde, who chairs the EDHZ Committee, told the council the proposal would encourage large manufacturing companies to continue to build in Meriden, as opposed to build in another community.
“It’s to support long standing businesses that want to stay here and grow,” Rohde said at the time.
Other members of the council had questions about the proposal.
Councilor Bob Williams Jr. asked why officials had limited the proposal to those companies that own two facilities and are seeking to open a third.
Williams’ question led to a proposed amendment to allow tax abatements for the owners of one or more existing manufacturing facilities who seek to expand in the city. The abatement, if approved, would apply to any new location that manufacturer acquires.
City Economic Development Director Joseph Feest said he is perfectly OK with that amended language.
The motion to refer the measure back to committee came after other questions were raised about the proposal: including whether it should apply to only newly constructed facilities or to any newly acquired properties and whether the proposal is compatible with the city’s Plan of Conservation and Development.
Feest said the proposal is for newly acquired properties, which would include existing buildings.
“The second purchase has to be over $800,000,” Feest said. He added if manufacturers are willing to invest in rehabilitating a vacant building on a newly acquired property they should still be considered worthy of receiving a discount for that expansion.
Williams said the proposal included good ideas and had some moving parts, which were reasons why he thought it should go back to committee.
“We need to do what we can to encourage the business base to stay, and hopefully grow,” Williams said a week later.
Rohde expressed a similar sentiment, noting over time, some manufacturers and local business owners have asked city leaders: “What are we doing for the companies in town?”
“Since we’re always talking about drawing companies in with incentives, they rightfully ask, ‘What’s in Meriden to keep us here?’” Rohde said.