Calling investors: Burrillville launches tax stabilization/credit program

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BURRILLVILLE – A new program that aims to address blighted areas in town through tax breaks on improvements and construction officially kicked off this week, and town officials are inviting potential investors to apply.

The tax credit program, created by the Burrillville Town Council in October, offers incentives for physical improvements to commercial, industrial, mixed use and apartment buildings with six or more legal units. The credits will apply to investments of $2,500 to $100,000 for a period of three years.

A second tax stabilization program will address new construction, including new buildings and additions to existing properties, with tax benefits available for a term of seven years.

The programs apply to specific eligible lots in Harrisville, Nasonville, Pascoag and Mapleville, as shown on maps found here. Projects costing $100,000 or more could qualify with council approval following a public hearing.

The program officially took effect on December 15, but Planner Raymond Goff said his office held off on announcing the incentives.

“We were waiting until we got out of the Covid dark cloud to go public with it,” explained Goff.

It marks a first time initiative for the town, targeting specific blighted areas in hopes to motivate investors. The council first passed the program listing dozens of specific parcels along Grove Street and Sayles Avenue in Pascoag, along with Victory Highway in Oakland. In Harrisville, the ordinance named lots on Chapel Street, Harrisville Main Street and Callahan School Street.

The board revisited the ordinance in January at Goff’s request, adding 27 more properties with additions targeting Spring Street and High Street, as well as lots surrounding the Stillwater Mill Complex.

Goff noted that all of the properties were scheduled to be part of the initial ordinance but some were accidentally left off when it was first passed. The lots were identified in advance as part of set, “redevelopment districts,” or through Burrillville’s latest Comprehensive Plan, passed in 2018.

Both votes, to create and then later modify the program, received unanimous support from councilors.

“Physical improvements means any structural improvements to existing commercial, industrial, mix-use and apartment houses that may include full or partial rehabilitation of walls, windows, roofs, siding, historic preservation, façade improvements, required code upgrades including but not limited to lead paint and asbestos removal, energy improvements including but not limited to solar installation, energy efficient lighting fixtures, replacement of outdated HVAC systems with energy efficient systems and modifications to satisfy the Americans with Disabilities Act,” notes the ordinance. “It shall also mean new construction and additions to existing buildings.”

The ordinance also specifies that outbuildings, including but not limited to carports, garages and storage buildings; will only qualify if the structures are used directly with the current type of business being conducted, or a proposed new use, as determined by the tax assessor. It notes that improvements must be completed within 12 months of the application submission.

Goff said that town officials are open to expanding the program, depending on reaction to the initial release.

“If the response is overwhelming, certainly, we’re not going to expand it just yet,” he said.

Full details, including maps with plat/lot numbers and schedules of credits and pro-rated values are laid out in section 25-48 of the town’s general ordinances.

Investors must apply before starting the project, and should contact the Tax Assessor’s office at (401) 568-9452 to learn more.

Goff said it’s a potential money-saver for those considering improvement work.

“If people are planning on doing improvements to their properties, it would probably be a good idea to get the credit for it,” he said. “If they weren’t planning on it, they may want to think of it as a way to save money over the next five or seven years.”

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