By Stephen Hauser
On Jan. 10, the Londonderry Town Council met and continued to discuss the ordinance regarding the Commercial and Industrial Property Tax Incentive Program. Specifically, the potential tax break proposed for the Woodmont project.
“It seems to me this Market Basket project looks like a failure,” said resident Robert McDonald during public comment. “They’re doing a less than auspicious job of marketing that project and that’s on them.”
McDonald added, “I don’t think it should be placed on the taxpayers of Londonderry to subsidize that project.”
Chairman John Farrell likened it to when Londonderry moved to using single trash cans years ago. “They came in one night and said everybody’s getting one trash can.” People with larger families complained. “So, what I promised is never to be involved in these fast decisions.”
Farrell reminded the council, “This particular ordinance was brought forward after we took a reduction in value on the power plant. The staff was directed to go find commercial revenue and keep residential taxes as flat as possible.”
He explained the incentive ordinance was put in place to draw commercial projects to Londonderry.
However, during the public forum, McDonald said, “I don’t’ think we need to make that easy for private enterprises.”
“They have to be self-supportive,” explained Farrell later. “If they don’t generate that revenue, they have to pay the difference.”
But after talking to the town manager, the solicitor, other councilors and people in the public, Farrell found this project “too immature.”
“The last thing we want to do when we bring this to the community is for it to be wrong,” said Councilor Jim Butler said, “Then shame on us.”
Vice Charmain Joe Green agreed, “We need to do more homework. If we rush into things, we make mistakes.”
Farrell proposed to table it and “go out and talk to other commercial brokers in other communities.”
He said, “Let’s find out what they did wrong, and what they did right, and what works. Maybe we’re going down the wrong rabbit whole here.”
He added, “We can’t pass an ordinance until we completely vet the entire thing out.”
He suggested that may take a year.
A motion was made to table. The council voted unanimously to table.
Farrell said the town staff would be directed to “go back and execute against we just said.”