Bow looks to town’s southern region to spur economic development

  • An aerial image of the possible development site in Bow is shown. Courtesy of the Town of Bow

Monitor staff
Published: 1/28/2019 4:17:45 PM

Officials in Bow are looking to the southern end of town as an area that could help spur economic development as it reels from the lost value of the Merrimack Station power plant, which rarely operates in today’s electricity markets.

The town has relied on tax revenue generated by the power plant for years. To make up for this lost revenue, the town is trying to bolster economic development on its northern border with Concord and is now looking south to its southern border with Hooksett.

Bow’s community development director, Matt Taylor, has created a plan to establish a tax increment finance district in the southern part of town that borders Hooksett. A couple of weeks earlier, the planning board voted to put a zoning amendment on the town warrant to zone the area for mixed use, including commercial and industrial business.

Both the TIF proposal and the zoning ordinance will likely come before voters at town meeting in March. The boundaries of the TIF district mirror that of the zoning ordinance. The 284-acre district is bound by River Road to the north, Interstate 93 to the west, the Merrimack River to the east and the Hooksett border to the south. The largest parcel of land in the district is the 192-acre Continental Paving Site on Route 3A.

Taylor presented his plan for the TIF district to the select board last Tuesday, and the board scheduled a public hearing on the proposal for Feb. 5 at 6:15 p.m.

The idea behind a TIF district is to accelerate the expansion of the commercial tax base by improving the area through development and improvement projects, which theoretically would then attract more business to the area.

How does that work? Consider the current value of the land in that district as the base. What the land is worth after the property in the district is improved is the “increment.” Taxes that are currently paid out to taxing entities – such as the school district, county, and state – will continue to be paid at the current rate, but the extra tax money generated from the higher assessed value can be used exclusively to further develop the area.

Taylor said this area has a potential for growth due to its access to Route 3A and a 2-mile drive to I-93 Exit 11. The district includes one of the largest vacant parcels in town, the 192-acre gravel pit off Route 3A.

“The conversion of the largest parcel in the district ... could easily add 30 million dollars or more to the Towns tax base, generating nearly a million dollars annually in tax revenue,” Taylor wrote in the proposal.

Taylor’s plan also calls for the town to extend its water and sewer lines south to the Hooksett border, allowing the area to accommodate more businesses. This project is estimated to cost $2.625 million and would be paid for primarily through the tax increment, but the town would also seek funding from other sources.

The town has had preliminary discussions with officials in Hooksett to share water and sewer systems.

“We haven’t really had anything to show (Hooksett) but I think this is an effort to show that Bow is serious and would like to move forward,” Taylor told the Monitor on Friday.

The proposal for this area is the latest plan to come before the town as it tries to open new revenue streams. Last year, voters supported the creation of a TIF district in the northern region of Bow, including the Bow Mills area, which was also rezoned for mixed use to include commercial businesses.

 

(Nick Stoico can be reached at 369-3321, nstoico@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @NickStoico.)


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