June 11th, 2009 -

Planning Board OKs commerce center

The Brunswick Commere Center, shown herein a rendering by Sitelines P.A. Developer Bill Moore said he is negotiating with five businesses interested in relocating to the center,  including a contractor, a manufacturer and a developer. Moore plans to have the two lane loop road, Commerce Center Drive,  paved this fall. Of businesses relocating to the center, he said, “I  would suspect you’ll probably see someone going to the Planning Board this fall.”

By Beth Brogan, Times Record Staff

Published:  Thursday, June 11, 2009 2:06 PM EDT

"BRUNSWICK — The Planning Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a major subdivision plan application submitted by Bill Moore for a 19lot commercial and residential subdivision on 94 acres between Durham and Old Portland roads. 

The project known as the “Brunswick Commerce Center” will occupy land previously considered and much studied by the town as the site of a business park. In September 2008, citing the inability to negotiate a price for the property, the town discontinued plans to build a business park on the property, and Moore said he would develop the property privately. 

On Wednesday, Moore said he envisions the development’s loop access road to be paved by fall, and expects businesses will begin relocating to the park then. Moore said he is already negotiating with five different businesses for lots in the center, among them a contractor, a manufacturer and a developer. 

Despite the previous controversy over commercial development of the property, no one spoke about the project during a public hearing Tuesday evening, according to Director of Planning and Development Anna Breinich. "

“I think we came up with a good solution,” Breinich said of the requirement. 

Moore said that overall he is “happy with both the Planning Board and planning staff in regards to their recommendations, and I’m pleased to move forward.” 

Commerce Center Drive, the twolane loop access road planned in the development, likely will be built and paved this fall, Moore said Wednesday. It will be built to town specifications, he said, so the town can take it over as a public road. 

Moore now awaits a site location permit from the Department of Environmental Protection, as well as a traffic movement permit from the Department of Transportation and an archaeological survey of three lots, which Moore said a Bowdoin College professor is conducting. Then he can sell the lots, and projects will begin the site plan approval process.


Baldacci expands Pine Tree Zone status to entire state

By Chris Cousins, Times Record Bureau
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 3:09 PM EDT
AUGUSTA — With a flourish of his pen Monday, Gov. John Baldacci invited companies expanding or relocating anywhere in Maine to enjoy years of state-sponsored financial benefits.

Baldacci’s signature on “An Act to Reaffirm Maine’s Commitment to Business by Amending the Pine Tree Development Zone Laws” expanded the program from select areas to the entire state. That means that new or growing businesses who meet certain criteria qualify for income tax credits, sales tax exemptions, payroll tax reimbursements and reduced utility rates.

Pine Tree Zones were established in 2003 in economically disadvantaged areas but have spread to the whole state in a two-tiered system that provides a longer benefit period in locations state officials believe economic development is needed most.

Baldacci said this new law — combined with tax reform legislation that will reduce the state’s top income tax rate from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent while broadening the sales tax base — should attract businesses looking to reduce operating costs.

“Maine has turned a page this legislative session and confirmed like never before that Maine is open for business,” said Baldacci as he signed the bill Monday. “This program has not received the attention that it should have and I think economic development people recognize the tools that are going to be provided here.”

Since the program’s inception, 213 businesses have been certified as eligible, with anticipated creation of more than 6,500 jobs, $203 million in payroll and $685 million in investments, according to information from the Department of Economic and Community Development.

Under the expansion, new or expanded businesses in Tier 1 communities — which includes most of the state — will enjoy 10 years of benefits. In Tier 2 communities, which include York and Cumberland counties, the benefits will last for five years.

However, businesses that certify within the program by the end of this year, regardless of where in Maine they’re located, will receive the full 10 years of benefits.

“This really helps businesses get off the ground by reducing, if not eliminating, their tax situation,” said Sen. Elizabeth Schneider, D-Orono, the Senate chairwoman of the Legislature’s Business, Research and Economic Development Committee, which collaborated to write the bill. Rep. Nancy Smith, D-Monmouth, the House chairwoman of the committee, agreed that the Pine Tree Zone is a powerful incentive.

“Any business that’s hesitating in this economy, we’re hoping this is the added incentive they need,” said Smith during the bill-signing ceremony in Baldacci’s office.

Rep. Jayne Crosby Giles, R-Belfast, the ranking House Republican on the BRED Committee, said the bill results from a strong bipartisan effort.

“It was not so much about Republicans and Democrats. It was about what we do in Maine right now in the worst economic climate we’ve had since the 1930s,” she said.

James Nimon, director of the state’s Office of Business Development, said he hopes for a strong response between now and the end of the year, when businesses anywhere in Maine can qualify for the full 10-year benefit if they create quality jobs with benefits.

“We’re hoping that folks will realize that we’ve got this time-limited opportunity for any companies that are interested in growing,” said Nimon. “We think we’ve put together in one place all the tax programs that Maine has that can make it as tax-free a zone as possible.”

Baldacci said there is ample proof that the program works, citing recent expansions of TD Banknorth in Auburn and T Mobile in Augusta, as well as around Brunswick Naval Air Station and Bath Iron Works.

“We wanted to be able to attract businesses that do businesses with Bath Iron Works, to give them the same benefits that are given in the Gulf Coast states,” said Baldacci. “We had an opportunity to level the playing field and create good quality jobs opportunities and benefits for businesses and our people.”

Nevertheless, Bath Iron Works in the last month has announced temporary layoffs of more than 150 workers, job cuts attributed to a gap in the work cycle between the DDG-51 and DDG-1000 destroyer lines.

According to a fiscal note attached to the bill, expanding the Pine Tree Development Zone program will cost approximately $2.5 million between now and June of 2011. The cost is in lost revenues in the sales and personal property taxes as well as corporate and individual income taxes. Most of that impact, about $2.4 million, will affect the General Fund.

The law takes effect in September, but contains a retroactive clause that means businesses can apply now, said Brian Hodges, who administers the program for the Department of Economic and Community Development.

For more information about the program, visit the Web site www.mainebiz.org/pine_tree_zones/default.asp



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